With retrenchment a looming reality for 528 aircraft maintenance technicians, trade union Solidarity is pulling out all the stops to keep their specialist skills employed locally.
Denel Personnel Solutions (DPS)/AMG (Aero Manpower Group) confirmed the retrenchment of 523 people responsible for maintenance and airworthiness of SA Air Force (SAAF) aircraft at a number of bases across the country this week.
This is because there are no contracts or order cover in the pipeline beyond March 31. It appears the only contract AMG had was with the SAAF and this was halted because it did not meet regulations prescribed in the Public Finance Management Act and prescripts set by National Treasury. The SAAF also indicated it would not be renewing the contract.
Jack Loggenberg, national organiser for the metal and engineering industries at Solidarity, said there was a possibility at least some of the more than 500 specialists earmarked for retrenchment could be individually recruited by Denel Group companies. He did not rule out potential recruitment by the SAAF.
“If the air force were to take over some of the contracts of employments before March 31 it would have to be done according to Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act. Employees’ conditions of service and remuneration must be kept on the same levels prior to retrenchment.
“We suspect the air force, in order to save money will wait until all AMG employees have been retrenched before possibly appointing some of them on a lower salary level to do the same work.”
Loggenberg said consultations were currently underway to deploy the AMG personnel in Denel Group companies or business units.
“We are hopeful of finalising consultation before February 14 to comply with the March 31 termination of employment date. None of the AMG personnel can leave Denel/AMG before then as contractual obligations with the Air Force extend until March 31,” he added.