Numsa turns to labour court to put brakes on Comair retrenchments

Irvin Jim says Comair's decision to retrench more than 400 workers is unlawful and unfair.
Irvin Jim says Comair's decision to retrench more than 400 workers is unlawful and unfair.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) turned to the labour court on Thursday seeking an urgent interdict to stop retrenchments at Comair.

The union wants the court to:

  • declare that the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) are acting in a procedurally unfair manner with respect to the section 189A process and thus the employer must withdraw the section 189A notice and issue a fresh one in compliance with the law;
  • declare that Numsa is not bound by the terms of the collective agreement entered into on September 25;
  • consult in good faith on all issues contemplated in section 189 and 189A of the Labour Relations Act.

The matter was scheduled to get under way on Thursday afternoon.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said in an affidavit filed to court that the application sought to address “as a matter of urgency” the unfairness of the airline’s decision to start the retrenchment process.

Jim contended that the respondents in the matter, which include Comair, the BRPs and Solidarity trade union, were conducting retrenchments in an “unlawful and unfair” manner.

Numsa believed the BRPs were planning to retrench about 400 employees.

Spokesperson for the business rescue practitioners, Stephen Forbes, said about Numsa’s court challenge: “We don’t believe Numsa’s application has any basis in fact or in law and are defending it.

“While retrenchments are regrettable, what is at stake here is the jobs of the majority of Comair employees.”


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