Two fellow unions at SAA back Solidarity in business rescue application

Two of the largest trade unions at South African Airways, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) have come out in support of a business rescue application filed by Solidarity against the embattled national airline.

Solidarity lodged the business rescue application in court on November 21, arguing that the airline was hopelessly insolvent" and nearing "total collapse". 

On Thursday morning, SAA announced that its board had adopted a resolution to place the company into business rescue "at the earliest opportunity". The statement did not mention Solidarity's earlier application. The airline has since filed a resolution with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission to have itself placed in voluntary business rescue, and a business rescue practitioner has been appointed. 

But Numsa and Sacca, in a joint statement, said SAA's decision to file for voluntary business rescue was "insincere, and an attempt to retain control by the board".

The unions said they decided to support Solidarity’s application in order to remain involved in the process and see that their "plans to save the airline are considered and implemented".

They argued that SAA's board and the department of public enterprises had failed to engage with them on plans to turnaround the airline.

[…] In their conduct, it was clear that they were plunging the airline deeper into a crisis. They were only concerned with apportioning blame for the strike to us as unions."

The unions also called for a say in selecting the business rescue practitioner, but the administrator was already appointed in Thursday evening.  

Dirk Hermann of Solidarity told Fin24 on Thursday afternoon that organised labour at SAA was not very happy that a business rescue practitioner had already been appointed for SAA without consulting labour unions.

"We feel SAA has acted too hastily and that Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan seems to already have set out his own plan for SAA in a statement issued by his department early on Thursday morning," he said.

- Additional reporting by Carin Smith