Numerous Solidarity and Numsa members, working for Denel on the East Rand and in Pretoria, have been participating in sporadic protest action since last week over the arms manufacturer’s proposed late payment of performance bonuses.
According to Willie Venter, Solidarity’s sector coordinator for the defence and aviation sectors, those bonuses are paid as a rule around June or July each year to eligible employees. “However, on 1 July this year, Denel’s management informed trade unions and employees that payment would only be made by the end of October this year. The company claims that it is currently experiencing a cash flow problem which is the reason behind the postponement of bonus payments. However, the company had already budgeted for bonuses in the previous financial year,” Venter said.
Venter added that since the disclosure of the Denel Asia debacle Denel employees have been plunged into uncertainty about the company’s future. “Employees are fearing that through its dubious decisions acting management and the newly appointed Denel Board are posing a risk to the future of the once prominent arms manufacturer. Their fears arise for example from the fact that since the appointment of the new board in 2015 the company has been experiencing financial challenges,” Venter said.
Venter believes the postponement of the payment of performance bonuses to employees probably harmed Denel employees’ trust in management even more. “Solidarity supports its members’ decision to show their dissatisfaction with management, including the issue of bonuses, in a peaceful manner during the protest action. We are confident that the Denel Group’s management will take cognisance of employees’ growing concern and that they will deal with it as soon as possible,” Venter explained.
The next board meeting where the payment of bonuses, among other things, will be discussed, will be held at Denel’s Irene Campus today. Trade unions have already obtained permission to participate in mass protest action during the meeting. Denel’s Aerostructures, Aviation, Vehicle Systems OMC and Vehicle Systems Gear Ratio Divisions are affected by the protest action.