Trade union Uasa has demanded that financially-embattled State-owned defence industrial group Denel reconsider the changes the company plans to make to its retrenchment policy. “Policy changes regarding workers’ rights should not happen to the detriment of our members and other workers employed at State-owned weapon manufacturer Denel,” asserted the union.
Although Uasa was ready and willing to consult with Denel, this readiness should not be abused by the company to carry out exploitative and unfair actions. “Uasa will continue to work relentlessly for workers’ rights by pushing forward continued communications and engagements that will serve the best interest of our members who must remain protected under any outcome,” it affirmed.
The defence group had not reviewed its retrenchment policy since 2007 and was now seeking to change that policy while also talking about implementing retrenchments. This approach would be resisted by the workers.
“At a Denel meeting with organised labour this week, intended to discuss the proposed policy changes regarding benefits paid out to employees on termination of service as well as the company policy on annual leave, Uasa and other labour representatives agreed unanimously that discussion should take place at a later stage after the (State-owned entity) reconsidered its proposals,” said Uasa. “Denel stated that the policies should be reviewed within the next two weeks.”
The union expressed the hope that the proposed changes would reduce the number of future retrenchments. But it would “fight tooth and nail” any effort by Denel to cut the benefits for retrenched workers.
Uasa was also willing to continue discussions with the government, to help turn Denel around. “Our members and South Africans in general need employment and to stay employed,” stressed the union. “More retrenchments are not the answer to our country’s woes. We need to keep workers working and economic sectors in business to overcome our unemployment and Covid-19 crises. Denel’s plan to reduce the benefits due to retrenched workers does not take us in that direction.”