SAA Pilots’ Association loses Labour Court bid to interdict lockout

Two weeks ago, SAA issued a formal lockout notice warning nearly 400 pilots would not be allowed to access their workplace until they agreed to new terms and conditions for employment.

FILE: SAA plane at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: 123rf.

JOHANNESBURG - The Labour Court on Tuesday dismissed the South African Airways Pilots’ Association’s (Saapa) application to interdict a lockout by the airline and declare it unlawful.

Two weeks ago, SAA issued a formal lockout notice warning nearly 400 pilots would not be allowed to access their workplace until they agreed to new terms and conditions for employment as part of efforts to rescue the airline.

SAA was placed in business rescue over a year ago, with a rescue plan being adopted in July that involved mass retrenchments.

ALSO READ: DPE backs SAA’s decision to lockout pilots

It also included changes to terms and conditions of employment for those who still have jobs, which Saapa is opposed to.

Business rescue practitioner Siviwe Dongwana said they were pleased that the courts sided with them, finding those tasked with saving the cash-strapped airline had complied with the Labour Relations Act in terms of implementing the lockout.

Labour Court Judge J van Niekerk said in his judgment that the lockout by SAA did not constitute a suspension of the pilot’s employment contracts.

Van Niekerk stated that a business rescue practitioner could engage in collective bargaining and initiate any legitimate economic pressure to press for proposed changes to employment terms.

Dongwana claimed Saapa was refusing to compromise on its 1997 regulating agreement, while other employees were making an effort to help create a new sustainable airline.

Saapa was not yet been available for comment.

Download the EWN app to your iOS or Android device.