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Thread: Contract alterations regarding training bonds, aviation

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    Contract alterations regarding training bonds, aviation

    Hey there everyone,

    I work for a well known airline in South Africa as a pilot. Recently I discovered that a training bond associated with my conversion onto the aircraft that I fly has been altered.

    When I joined said company the bond was a ‘depreciating type’ over five years. This is what I signed in my employment contract when I joined.

    Since then, it appears as though the company has changed this to a ‘non depreciating’ type, meaning that if I was to leave after say 3 years service in my case, they expect the full amount to be paid back to them.

    This is in the region of 200 000 Rand.

    They cite that the recent raise we received during salary negotiations with our union as justification for this.

    Is it legal to retro-actively change someone’s training bond, and by extension their employment contact without their specific consent to do so? (I never signed any document agreeing to the new terms.)

    Regards
    Tommy’s Gun

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    The first question would be are you planning on leaving before the 5 years?

    I personally don't think it would hold if it was not agreed originally and reduced to writing. I don't think it can be treated as a company policy change blanket for all employees... Maybe new ones if re worded yes...

    However on the flip side they may still try to enforce the new terms which could end up being a lengthy and costly process depending on which avenue they use to try and recoup the full amount.

    Just my opinion. I would seek proper legal advise if you are certain you want to move!

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    The employer may not unilaterally change the terms of employment - there needs to be an engagement process with the employee(s). However, one has to bear in mind that in the realm of collective bargaining and employee representation, it is possible that engagement occurred but the affected employee was not aware of all the details.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy’s Gun View Post
    They cite that the recent raise we received during salary negotiations with our union as justification for this.
    Check with the union if the training bond terms was a point of negotiation and altered in any way.

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    Yes I am planning on leaving before the 5 year period.

    I believe that our contracts may have been altered through the ‘Collective Bargaining’ as mentioned by Dave A.

    There are some further circumstances worth mentioning: The aircraft that said bond applies to have in fact already been sold off by the company. No guarantee has been made to us that our jobs will be secure in the future. The timeline presented to us was that this would take place over the next 3-4 years. Surely this would be a reason to release us from our bonds, not one to further ‘lock us in’ so to speak?

    We do have a recognized union. Should I compel them into taking up the issue on my/our behalf?

    Thanks for the advice everyone.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy’s Gun View Post
    We do have a recognized union. Should I compel them into taking up the issue on my/our behalf?
    If you're a member of the union, talking to them first is definitely your starting point. From my experience, there are a lot of funny little trade-offs that occur in collective bargaining.

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