Small victory for unpaid Denel employees

Labour union Solidarity has received R4 million from state-owned arms manufacturer Denel to pay the outstanding salaries of its members at Denel Land Systems and Denel Dynamics.

The payment comes after Solidarity obtained a court order in March 2021 to seize some of Denel’s assets, and Solidarity had arranged to auction off these assets today.

“The payment of the salary money to Solidarity is a major victory for Solidarity and its members,” said Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann.

“Their salaries have been looted for more than a year while the state institution refused to fulfil its responsibilities.”

Hermann said Solidarity refused to accept laxity from the state and Denel and applied constant pressure in order to force Denel to comply with the earlier court order made last year.

The salaries paid are only for the period from May 2020 to July 2020, as specified in that order.

However, Solidarity said another case would be heard in the Johannesburg Labour Court on 7 October 2020, when it would challenge Denel on the outstanding salaries of every Solidarity member who has worked at Denel from August 2020 to the present.

Hermann accused Denel of thinking it could “load-shed” salaries in the same way that Eskom cut power from customers.

“The state institution expects loyalty from its employees, but fails to pay them,” Hermann said.

“We will not allow this, and we will once again challenge Denel in court to fulfil its obligations.”

Dirk Hermann (left), Solidarity chief executive, and Derek Mans (right), Solidarity organiser for defence and aviation.

Hermann added it was a shame that it constantly had to go to court to force an organisation to pay its own employees’ salaries.

“This major blow against corruption is only the first of many,” Hermann said.

The R4 million is only a fraction of the total R636 million in salaries that Denel still owes its employees.

The company is technically insolvent, with insufficient cash to meet operational requirements.

Many Denel employees have struggled to survive as the company has been unable to pay full salaries for more than a year.

Solidarity previously said most employees had only received partial salaries in most instances from April 2020.

Denel Dynamics had not paid employees their salaries at all in certain months, while other divisions paid partial wages between 40% and 80%.

In spite of this, the company recently told Parliament it has continued to pay three suspended executives, who allegedly committed corruption and were connected to the Gupta-linked VR Laser Group, their full salaries.

Hermann said Solidarity was “fed up” with a government that provided shelter to looters and did not take action against offenders.

“Our tax money is being misused and innocent employees at government agencies and entities are suffering with us because of it. Enough is enough.”

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Small victory for unpaid Denel employees