A Labour Court judgment, which on Friday dismissed an application to compel SAA to consult employees pending retrenchments was a ‘travesty of justice’, according to the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa), which, together with the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), failed to force the employer to begin consultations as required by the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

Judge Graham Moshoana held SAA had not contemplated dismissals and therefore the duty to consult as set out in section 189 of the LRA did not arise, says a TimesLIVE report.

‘The procedure in section 189A (13) is available to consulting parties and since the duty to consult has not arisen, the powers of this court to compel a fair procedure and or interdiction and restraining SAA are severely circumscribed,’ Moshoana said.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union viewed the judgment as a travesty of justice.

‘What the Labour Court has done today is to take away workers’ rights to have meaningful engagement when retrenchments are taking place,’ said Hlubi-Majola.

‘The business rescue practitioners are retrenching workers at SAA. There is a plan that is being implemented; we are simply being told about it; we are not being meaningfully engaged.’

Sacca president Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said the court had taken away the right to be meaningfully engaged and consulted prior to a restructuring taking place.

‘We have proven that members in Durban, Port Elizabeth were told that by the first of March, they will have no more employment,’ said Nsibanyoni-Mugambi.

Full TimesLIVE report

Moshoana has reserved judgment on an application by the unions for leave to appeal, notes Legalbrief. Business rescue practitioners have argued the application to compel the employer to consult was premature because the practitioners were not contemplating retrenchments.

The judge agreed.

The application followed an announcement by the business rescue practitioners that as of 29 February, domestic destinations including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth would cease to be operated by SAA.

The unions went to court because they believe the route cancellation announcement would inevitably result in job losses, and signalled that the practitioners were intending to bypass the retrenchment processes set out in section 189 of the LRA, notes a second TimesLIVE report.

Andrew Redding SC, counsel for the airline and the two business rescue practitioners, on Thursday argued that section 133 of the Companies Act states that, during business rescue proceedings, no legal proceedings against the company may be commenced in any forum.

He said the application by the unions was premature because there were no contemplated retrenchments to speak of.

Full TimesLIVE report