Denel Dynamics staff getting 45% of November salaries as UASA complains to Public Protector


Denel Dynamics is one of the few Denel Group divisions that is in a position to pay November salaries, with staff getting 45% of their mandated pay.

This is according to Denel Dynamics CEO Sello Ntsihlele, who told employees in an infogram dated 3 December that, “the business has received a number of payments on our submitted invoices, and we will be able to make a payment of 45% towards salaries for November 2021. The date of the salary payment will be communicated once the funds have been released.”

He said he appreciated the “tremendous effort being made by the programmes and support teams.”

Denel Dynamics was only able to pay 20% of September salaries.

Other Denel divisions, including Denel Land Systems, were told they were not getting any money in November, nor 13th cheques, due to extreme financial pressures.

Last month Denel announced the implementation of voluntary severance packages for staff in an effort to cut costs – it owes staff more than half a billion rand, and is facing pressure from trade unions and the labour court over salaries and benefits that have been unpaid since mid-2020.

Frustrated trade union UASA on 3 December announced it was laying a complaint against Denel with the Public Protector over the issue of non-payment of full salaries to UASA members.

“UASA has numerously approached the Labour Court to intervene on the issue and obligate Denel Executive Management for salary payments with no luck. Following several ignored submissions that were made by UASA to the local Denel forum and court orders compelling Denel to pay outstanding salaries, UASA had no choice but to approach the public protector,” the union’s spokesperson Abigail Moyo said in a statement.

“The most disappointing deed is that government who is the sole shareholder of Denel is not willing to assist the affected workers since the recent R2.9 billion that was granted to Denel is for secured debt only not for salary payments.

“UASA’s main request is that the Public Protector must investigate any form of maladministration and recommendation on how to avert the total collapse of Denel and its divisions.”

The trade union said the non-payment of salaries has led some employees to ask their doctors for anti-depressants while others have contemplated suicide due to ‘unbearable’ financial burdens.

“Nevertheless, the entity continues to show no interest in the well-being of their employees, perhaps it is because they do not feel the pain and value our members as their most valuable asset. UASA will continue to fight for the rights of our members until Denel pays what is due to them. This is a matter of urgency. We hope that the Public Protector will take this matter into serious consideration. Our members must get paid what is due to them and stop suffering at the hands of their employer,” Moyo concluded.

African Defence Review Director Darren Olivier believes that not paying Denel staff their salaries and benefits is “disgusting, unfair, and stupid,” and lays the blame with both Denel and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) who have “stolen wages from employees in order to stave off a default.”

Although Denel has been granted R2.9 billion by National Treasury, this is ringfenced for servicing debt, and not towards paying staff or suppliers, who are owed a combined R1.5 billion.

Olivier believes it would be more fair to staff to implement a proper furlough, but “Denel staff are given false hope and expected to wait right up until pay day to hear what, or if, they’ll get paid. That uncertainty is what has driven so many into the pits of despair. Many staff are also still pressured to come in, so as to generate revenue to ‘save’ the company, despite being unpaid, with no benefit for coming in or transport reimbursement.”

This is not the case across all Denel divisions, as some have been getting more regular salaries whereas entities like Denel Dynamics and Denel Land Systems are worst affected.

Olivier notes the liquidity crisis at Denel is not just the consequences of a tough market. “Denel has been allowed to fail through a series of exceptionally bad and incomprehensible decisions by DPE, Treasury, and management that have caused it to lose key contracts that would’ve saved it. As I’ve said before, these decisions have been bad enough that it would be difficult to distinguish them from deliberate sabotage. The damage has been the same, in any case.”