Some 290 SAA pilots may be retrenched as part of new deal

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Pilots of SAAPA are expected to vote on an agreement with SAA this weekend.
Pilots of SAAPA are expected to vote on an agreement with SAA this weekend.
Silas Stein/Getty Images

After ten months of negotiations, SAA and  the SAA Pilots' Association (SAAPA) have reached an in-principle settlement. 

SAAPA members will now vote on the agreement, which could end all disputes with the airline if it were accepted. The outcome is expected on Sunday afternoon.

"If accepted by the membership, it would end the lockout and strike and would bring to a close all disputes between the pilots and SAA," said a SAAPA statement on Friday.

According to SAAPA, the new deal means that 88 pilots will be retained and approximately 290 pilots will be retrenched. They will, however, receive payment of monies owed, as well as retrenchment pay.

"As SAAPA pilots have not received any remuneration since the end of March 2020, over 15 months ago, the agreement includes provisions for payments to be made within a week of signature of the final agreement," the statement read.

It will be implemented if at least 50% plus one SAAPA member vote in its favour.

According to a SAA statement, the deal is a "milestone achievement and a workable solution".

"We appreciate the spirit of reconciliation and commitment by all parties in finding a reasonable solution to end the impasse with SAA’s pilots, as we remain resolute in pursuing our goal of getting SAA back in the skies," SAA’s interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo said.

Last week, the Labour Court dismissed an urgent application by SAAPA to stop the airline from using replacement labour while its members were on strike. SAAPA also wanted the lockout of its members to be declared unlawful and unprotected, Fin24 previously reported.

Subsequently, SAA, in a letter to employees - seen by Fin24 - expressed willingness to return to the negotiation table with SAAPA.

SAAPA, which represents nearly 90% of the pilots at SAA, has been locked out of SAA since mid-December last year. A lockout means an employer is not obliged to pay their salaries, and it was an attempt by the airline to get SAAPA to agree to cancel its long-standing regulating agreement and accept new terms of employment.

While still locked out, SAAPA members also declared a strike earlier this year to prevent a situation where the company lifted the lockout only for some pilots, especially training pilots, who are needed to get SAA back in the air again.

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