Thembinkosi Sekgaphane
Phakaaathi Contributor
2 minute read
12 May 2021
11:48 am

SAA and pilots’ association to meet over pending disputes

Thembinkosi Sekgaphane

Back says the airline is required to calculate the final amount owed to Saapa members regarding salary payments. 

Picture: iStock

South African Airways (SAA) management and the SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa) are expected to meet on Wednesday over pending payment disputes, according to Saapa chair Captain Grant Back.

Although SAA exited business rescue at the end of April, the airline and Saapa did not reach agreement on three issues: retrenchment packages and salaries owed to Saapa members, the contentious Regulatory Agreement (RA), and the lockout of pilots since December 2020.

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The parties are expected to hash out the pending issues as well as an arbitration ruling handed down on Friday (May 7) ordering SAA to pay Saapa’s 360 members at the airline backdated meal allowances and salaries for the six months to December 2020.

The ruling notes that Saapa members are entitled to nearly R11 million in payments for domestic and international meal allowances prior to the airline entering business rescue in December 2019.

Saapa’s argument

Saapa had argued that SAA incorrectly characterised the payments of the meal allowances as concurrent claims instead of preferred claims in line with Section 144 of the Companies Act.

Back says the airline is required to calculate the final amount owed to Saapa members regarding salary payments.

SAA says it is still studying the ruling and will comment in due course.

Saapa pilots, who are currently on strike, approached the Labour Court to declare the lockout unlawful and to prevent SAA from hiring “scab labour” to replace its members.

The matter was heard in April but postponed to June.

In April, the airline’s business rescue practitioners offered Saapa members a final settlement agreement of R214 million. This amount includes an ex-gratia payment of R85 million (paid over three years) “for the purposes of cancelling the regulating agreement” and R129 million “for retrenchment packages”.

The rescue practitioners said the offer would not be on the table following SAA’s exit from business rescue.

This story first appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission.