Further proof, if ever needed, of the abysmal plight of Denel employees comes on Friday when assets of the State-owned defence and technology conglomerate are auctioned to provide a modicum of financial relief to staffers.
The auction will be handled by the Sheriff, a legal entity Centurion-headquartered trade union Solidarity previously turned to in ongoing efforts to ensure members employed by Denel are paid as per employment agreements and contracts.
Pretoria-based digital news platform Maroela Media reports the auction was ordered when Denel either ignored or failed to comply with a court order to pay R90 million in outstanding salaries and employee benefits, including medical and pension.
Denel pensioners and serving employees who belong to the Denel Medical Benefit Trust (DMBT) fund will seemingly by the end of this month (July) have access to the current subsidy amounts owing as this is to be paid to a mutually agreed health insurer. The insurer, according to the statement, will take steps to issue individual policies. This is expected to take about three months with completion expected in November.
Ahead of the assets auction at Denel’s Lyttelton, Centurion, campus, Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said it was “a disgrace” the non- and under-payment of salaries and employee benefits had to come this far.
“The State allowed its assets to be poorly managed, stalked and looted and is now forced to auction some of what remains,” he told Maroela Media.
Thirteen vehicles, including seven pick-up trucks, will go under the hammer along with three forklifts, a plasma TV, leather chairs, couches as well as office chairs and desks.
In typically hard-hitting remarks, Hermann called the auction “a shame”.
“Behind it are ordinary people who work hard. Many still do to keep Denel going. Some struggle to pay rent, others lost their homes and there are also those with depression. This is in addition to families breaking up, parents unable to pay school fees. This is the other face of State looting – real people with gripping and sad narratives – and the reason why Solidarity keeps on championing them.”
The auction site is where what was LIW, the widely accepted acronym for Lyttelton Ingenieurswerke (Lyttelton Engineering Works), producer of the then world-renowned G5 and G6 artillery pieces as well as various turrets for armoured vehicles and tanks, was located. Other once profitable components of Denel, including Mechem, occupied space on the site on the northern side of Centurion.