Trade union taking a tough line on Denel


Hard on the heels of a Denel presentation to a Parliamentary committee, trade union Solidarity has accused the Cabinet ministers tasked with defence, finance and public enterprises of “not acting in the best interests” of the ailing State-owned enterprise via a letter.

Denel directors were copied on the letter from the Centurion-headquartered trade union, which has court action pending against the defence and technology conglomerate.

The Solidarity letter has it Cabinet ministers Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (defence and military veterans), Tito Mboweni (finance) and Pravin Gordhan (public enterprises) are “supporting each other and Denel in public” while their actions do not match their words.

“They are not acting in the best interests of Denel, its employees or the wider South African public. Solidarity makes the accusation because Denel still has not acted on a court ruling obliging it to pay arrear salaries and statutory deductions and there are Denel divisions still not paying full salaries,” Solidarity defence and aviation sector co-ordinator Helgard Cronjé said.

“It is unacceptable for the state not to accept responsibility for its entities. Historical mismanagement and maladministration committed by the state and its cohorts are why Denel cannot stay afloat financially. At the end of the day it is not government employees and their cadres who bear the consequences but loyal workers who have to foot the bill by sacrificing salaries.”

The trade union maintains it worked in good faith with Denel management, currently headed by interim chief executive Talib Sadik, presenting solutions to assist in a turnaround strategy. These have apparently been rebuffed with no indication of any speeding-up of either decision-making or implementation by both Denel board and management.

As one example of the sorry state of affairs at Denel, the Solidarity letter points to personnel losses.

“Employees are leaving at an alarming rate. Two hundred and ninety-six, of which 116 are from Denel Dynamics, have exited Denel,” according to the letter.

Cronjé warned the trade union is fast reaching the end of its tether and plans to obtain a warrant.

“This will be enforced to recover salary arrears and other fees due to Solidarity members at Denel,” he said adding continued non-compliance with contractual and statutory obligations is “a unilateral challenge to the conditions of employment” and further legal action can be expected.