Numsa lashes out at Comair for ‘bullying’ employees

Under the business rescue plan, at least 400 people will find themselves without work

Numsa lashes out at Comair for ‘bullying’ employees

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has accused Comair’s Business Rescue Practitioners (BRP) of trying to blackmail employees at the troubled aviation giant, ahead of an important meeting on Friday, 18 September 2020, which could determine its fate.

Comair, which owns Kulula and British Airways, went into business rescue back in May after the COVID-19 lockdown resulted in the aviation sector being ground to a halt.

Numsa, the majority union at Comair, said it would not be signing the collective agreement brought forward.

“We are the majority union and we will not be signing the collective agreement nor will we be attending the meeting today. Whilst we are committed to constructive and honest engagements, we are certainly not prepared to sign collective agreements under duress and in circumstances where Comair is simply attempting to blackmail workers into signing,” said union spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

The plan suggests a fresh equity injection of R500 million in return for a 99% shareholder. As much as 15% of that would be allocated towards suitable BBBEE partners.

The workforce will be reduced from approximately 2,200 employees to 1,800 through a voluntary retrenchment and early retirement programmes, as well as the continuation of the Section 189 retrenchment process that the company commenced prior to business rescue.

Numsa: Comair Business rescuers ‘not engaged in an honest and constructive manner’

Hlubi-Majola said the aviation company’s financial troubles are not lost on them, but that the BRPs Richard Ferguson and Shaun Collyer are attempting to milk the Comair, at the expense of the workers.

“…it is unfortunately quite apparent that the BRPs and the proposed investors are attempting to extract the maximum capital from the current disastrous economic situation to the detriment of employees and in a manner which constitutes perverse exploitation of those who are most vulnerable,” she further said.

The union has further accused the BRPs of not being open with its members, insisting that it’s been committed to engaging Comair in a solution driven manner.

“The approach of the BRPs has been one of intimidation and threats where employees are given the choice to either accept an outrageously unfair and unlawful collective agreement in terms of which they have to waive their contractual, statutory and Constitutional Rights, or accept that the airline will be wound down and they will lose their employment,” the union said.

“We reject any attempts to bully employees into signing”

Source : The South African More