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saa thumb medium95 76City Press reports that the business rescue process currently under way for South African Airways (SAA) has been plunged into crisis, after pandemonium erupted during a meeting between the airline’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) and labour representatives on Thursday.  

At the meeting, unions learnt that the rescue practitioners had already announced in a press statement that various flights would be cancelled – even before the business rescue plan was released.  Irvin Jim of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) apparently walked out of the meeting.  The breakdown is said to be so significant that one of the unions is considering taking legal action to have the practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, removed.  The breakdown between the BRPs and the workers’ committee started early in the week, when Matuson and Dongwana wanted support for an accelerated section 189 process, without providing any detail.  This would have meant that representatives of SAA personnel would have had to agree to lay off about 1,000 of their members, without knowing who would be affected and what the rationale for the move was.  According to Derek Mans, trade union Solidarity’s representative for the aviation industry, it sounded as if the layoffs were a condition set by financiers wary of advancing more money to keep SAA in the air.  The workers’ committee refused and adjourned to discuss the matter.  Shortly after the start of Thursday’s meeting, the workers’ committee learnt that the BRPs had just released a press statement about the cancellation of almost all of SAA’s domestic routes, along with five regional routes and five international ones.  Committee members then received phone calls from SAA personnel across the world, wanting to know what would become of their jobs.  Mans said the cancellation of the routes was not part of the business rescue plan; it was only aimed at protecting the money in SAA’s coffers.  Solidarity was consulting with its legal team on Friday, after Numsa asked for support to bring an urgent court application requesting the removal of Matuson and Dongwana.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Antoinette Slabbert at City Press
  • Read too, Unions slam SAA route cancellations, warn of 'devastating' impact on jobs, at Engineering News

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