Picture: 123RF/ANTONIO GUILLEM
Picture: 123RF/ANTONIO GUILLEM

The Union Association of SA (Uasa) has threatened to block Comair’s application to go into business rescue. 

On Tuesday, Comair, which owns Kulula.com and operates British Airways (BA) flights locally, said it is going into business rescue and suspended trading its shares on the JSE due to the impact of Covid-19, which has left it unable to operate for more than a month now. 

On Thursday, Uasa said it is ready to serve court papers to block Comair’s business rescue application, “as there was no proper consultation with us or other unions or the employees themselves”. 

Comair is therefore in breach of the Labour Relations Act, said the union.

Comair, which suffered its first annual loss in its 73-year history in the 2019 fiscal year, was already reeling from rising costs when President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed the 21-day lockdown at the end of March, which was expended to the end of April.

The airline said it is not generating revenue during the lockdown, and expects that normal service may only return in October or November, and is attempting to cut costs, including through retrenchments. 

Comair “seemingly wants to run section 189 notices and its business rescue plan concurrently, as the airline has not cancelled the retrenchment process yet with the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)” said Uasa.

The union said its members employed by Comair have not been informed of the business rescue plans or how they will be affected.

Uasa is of the opinion that Comair is disregarding employees’ rights. Unfortunately, some companies seem to take advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to justify employee retrenchments,” it said in a statement.

Comair is the second high-profile private company to tumble into business rescue after Edcon, one of the biggest names in SA clothing retail, voluntarily filed for the same protection from creditors to re-organise its business and work out if it can survive.  

gavazam@businesslive.co.za

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