The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) is heading to the labour court to interdict SAA from retrenching almost 1,000 employees.
SAA announced its intention to retrench 945 workers on Monday.
The announcement, according to Satawu, did not reach unions via the airline.
“Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) is very clear that all unions representing workers in the company should be consulted and so should unorganised employees. Therefore, by not consulting the unions, SAA is in breach of the act,” said Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela.
She said Satawu viewed SAA’s failure to consult as “union-bashing of the worst kind” – and a misdirected strategy to influence the outcome of the ongoing wage negotiations.
“Satawu … holds a majority within SAA subsidiary SAA Technical. Wage negotiations at SAAT deadlocked when management put a zero percent wage offer on the table. On Tuesday, wage talks continued at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
“SAAT put a non-guaranteed offer of 5.9% on the table, saying the board would only approve it on condition management cut operational costs to fund the increased salary bill,” Sabela said.
“Labour did not accept the offer. The CCMA consequently issued a strike certificate but instructed the unions delay embarking on industrial action until November 22 to afford both parties more time to engage.”
According to Sabela, by approaching the labour court, Satawu intends to force SAA to comply with the stipulations of Section 189 of the LRA – “so it can start the process of consultation in earnest”.
“That way labour will have the opportunity to analyse the restructure plan and by so doing find concrete means to avert the proposed retrenchments,” said Sabela.
On Tuesday, SAA cancelled nearly all of its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday ahead of a strike.
The airline said all flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and code-share partners, as well as flights operated by Star Alliance partner airlines, would not be affected.