NUMSA heading to court to demand payment, medical aid contributions from Kulula.com owner – News24

NUMSA heading to court to demand payment, medical aid contributions from Kulula.com owner – News24
Comair hopes to begin flying again in December if a proposed business rescue plan is accepted. (Supplied)

Comair hopes to begin flying again in December if a proposed business rescue plan is accepted. (Supplied)

  • The National Union of Metalworkers of SA is heading to Court in an attempt to force Comair to pay its members’ outstanding salaries and medical aid contributions.
  • Comair hopes to begin flying again in December if a proposed business rescue plan is accepted.
  • Comair’s rescue practitioners have accepted a proposal by the Comair Rescue Consortium (previously known as the Moritz Consortium) as their preferred offer to take the group forward.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) is heading to the Labour Court in Johannesburg in an attempt to force JSE-listed Comair and its business rescue practitioners Shaun Collyer and Richard Ferguson to pay its members’ outstanding salaries and medical aid contributions.

Comair hopes to begin flying again in December if a proposed business rescue plan, published just before midnight on Wednesday evening, is accepted. It operates its own low-cost airline Kulula.com as well as British Airways in South Africa under a licence agreement.

Comair’s rescue practitioners have accepted a proposal by the Comair Rescue Consortium (previously known as the Moritz Consortium) as their preferred offer to take the group forward. In terms of the offer by the consortium, all staff medical contributions will be paid for August to November. Comair creditors have to decide on 18 September whether to accept the rescue plan or not.

If all goes according to plan, NUMSA hopes that its application will be heard as a matter of urgency on Wednesday 9 September.

According to the union, the airline and its rescue practitioners are acting unlawfully by not having paid salaries since 1 June 2020 and their failure “or threatened failure” to pay the airline’s full medical aid contributions from 1 August or 1 September this year.

NUMSA intends to ask the Labour Court to order the airline and its rescue practitioners to take urgent steps to ensure that all medical aid benefits are reinstated and that all medical aid contributions in respect of the union’s members are paid-up in full and remain paid up in full for the duration of the business rescue proceedings.

The union also wants the court to order that its members’ outstanding remuneration be paid within seven days.

NUMSA claims that the matter is urgent because of unfairness due to its members not having been paid salaries and medical aid premiums.

According to NUMSA, the airline and rescue practitioners claim they are not obliged to remunerate employees and, furthermore, due to the airline’s current financial distress are unable to remunerate employees.

Comair employed about 2 086 people by March 2020, but a number of them have left since then, according to NUMSA. Following the lockdown Comair suspended operations and employees subsequently did not get salaries other than TERS payments.

NUMSA claims Comair is breaking its contractual and statutory obligations to its employees.

A meeting on 1 September to try and resolve the issues failed, leading to NUMSA’s decision to turn to the Labour Court for relief.

“It is simply untenable that employees and their dependants are not covered by medical-aid and there is no certainty as to how long this interim period will last and, in fact, whether this will not in fact become a permanent scenario,” NUMSA secretary general Irvin Jim states in his affidavit, which supports the application.

In his view, the recently released proposed rescue plan indicates there were options available to meet the obligations towards employees and to comply with the law.

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