As another month-end and its accompanying payday fast approaches, trade union Solidarity maintains the Denel Retirement Fund (Denret) has not yet received pension fund contributions from the State-owned defence conglomerate for June.
In another development around the short-payment of salaries and benefits to Denel personnel, the Centurion-headquartered trade union said it was this week informed pension fund contributions for June were still outstanding.
In response the trade union has demanded proof of payment from the employer (Denel).
“Denel has not responded by offering proof of payment yet and the uncertainty remains. The way Denel and by extension government have treated employees is an absolute disgrace,” Helgard Cronje, Solidarity sector co-ordinator for defence and aerospace, said.
“Solidarity will not stand by and let the implications of Denel’s misconduct go unnoticed. If payment is not confirmed, Solidarity will take the necessary action. Solidarity has a mandate from its members to lay criminal charges to force Denel to pay all outstanding money.”
Denel earlier this month acknowledged the group was “working tirelessly” to pay the pension fund contributions. According to a statement Denel was also “engaging banks to secure bridging finance until recapitalisation is received”.
The pension issue is part of overall current liquidity challenges at Denel, the previous manifestation being short payment of salaries at the end of June. After indicating it would only be able to meet 85% of June salaries Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced an eleventh hour reprieve in the form of a local commercial bank had made funds available enabling Denel to fully meet its June salary commitments.
This, Solidarity noted, did not include other employee benefits such as pension fund contributions, UIF deductions, Skills Levy deductions or tax deductions. The trade union has and is meeting with Denel regularly and Cronje said Denel “once again apologised and acknowledged the inconvenience caused”.
Solidarity’s response to this is that “Denel failed to provide employees with information they are entitled to and which adversely affects their lives. Solidarity believes Denel management does not grasp the seriousness of the situation and the impact it has on individuals”.
Going forward Denel can expect all its human resource actions to be scrutinised to ensure employee interests are part of any solutions proposed.
“As it presently stands, the situation is totally unacceptable and Solidarity will hold Denel to account on behalf of not only Solidarity members, but all Denel workers,” Cronje said.