The Solidarity trade union has accused government Ministers of failing to support each other, as well as defence industrial group Denel, regarding the future of the financially-beleaguered State-owned entity. In a letter to the Denel board of directors and a number of Ministers, notably Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, the union asserted that the expressions of support by the Ministers were purely for public consumption and that their actions did not support their words.
“It is totally unacceptable that the State does not want to accept responsibility for its entities,” affirmed Solidarity defence and aviation sector coordinator Helgard Cronjé. “It is due to historical mistakes of mismanagement and maladministration committed by the State and its cohorts that, today, Denel cannot stay afloat financially. However, it is not the government employees and their cadres who bear the consequences, but loyal workers who, among other things, have to foot the bill by sacrificing their salaries.”
On August 4 the Labour Court had ordered that Denel pay its workers their salaries as well as other statutory payments. Denel’s failure to comply resulted in Solidarity urgently applying for a contempt of court complaint against the company, an application that was granted by the Labour Court on August 28. Yet Denel is still not paying its staff their full salaries nor making its other statutory and contractual obligations. And the group has also announced that it will be making retrenchments in four of its divisions.
“At the moment, Solidarity is in the process of obtaining a warrant which we can enforce on Denel to recover the salary arrears and other fees due to our members,” he stated. “Moreover, we regard the continued non-payment of salaries and its non-compliance with other contractual and statutory obligations as a unilateral change to the conditions of employment, and in this regard we are currently investigating further action against Denel. Solidarity will protect the interests of our members all along and will support them in any of the retrenchment processes Denel has announced.”
The union is of the opinion that the government is failing to appropriately assist Denel to timeously implement its turnaround plans. Solidarity has itself proposed several options to turn the entity around. But all options require State support, as well as changes to its slow decision-making and implementing processes, which result in decisions taking up to 18 months to be executed.