SAAF won't take over contracts of Denel aircraft specialists - Solidarity

Union says there's a possibility that air force would attempt to recruit some individual employees

Retrenchments at Denel unavoidable - Solidarity

The South African Air Force has confirmed that it will not be taking over the contracts of any of the 523 aircraft specialists at Denel Aviation/AMG and that its contract for aircraft maintenance with the company will end on 31 March. This revelation was made yesterday during the first retrenchment consultation and it appears that retrenchments at Denel as a result of this decision are unavoidable, trade union Solidarity said today.

According to Jack Loggenberg, spokesperson for Solidarity, the SA Air Force yesterday confirmed telephonically during the consultation that it would not change its mind and that the contract would not be renewed. Loggenberg said although the air force had formally confirmed that it would not take over any of the 523 aircraft specialists from Denel Aviation/AMG, there was a possibility that it would attempt to recruit some of the employees individually.

‘We suspect that the air force does not want to get involved in formal consultations with the trade unions. The air force probably wants to end the Denel contract because it is very expensive. If the air force were to take over some of the contracts of employment, a section 197 would have to be issued as well for the transfer of the contracts. According to section 197 of the Labour Relations Act, employees' conditions of service and remuneration must be kept on the same level when their contracts of employment are transferred. It is therefore our suspicion that the air force, in order to save money, will wait until all the employees have been retrenched before possibly appointing some of them on a lower salary to do the same work.'

‘Since the air force has confirmed that it would not be taking over any of the 523 aircraft specialists from Denel Aviation/AMG, we are trying, through the consultations, to deploy the employees within Denel or other companies. We hope to finalise the consultation process by 14 February in order to comply with the termination of employment date of 31 March. None of the employees will be able to leave Denel Aviation/AMG before then, as the company has to fulfil its contractual obligations with the air force until 31 March.'

Loggenberg said Denel's top management had done everything possible in a bid to salvage the contract with the SA Air Force. Solidarity represents 208 of the 523 aircraft specialists. The employees concerned are stationed nationwide at different squadrons, including Hoedspruit, Lephalale, Louis Trichardt, Bredasdorp, Ysterplaat and Langebaan. About 40% of the aircraft specialists are stationed in Pretoria. The Department of Defence gave notice on 20 June 2011 of its intention to cancel its aircraft maintenance contract with Denel Aviation/AMG.

Statement issued by Jack Loggenberg, Spokesperson: Solidarity, January 15 2013

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