The the SAAF's new Hawk fighter trainers on the Denel assembly line. Picture: SUPPLIED
The the SAAF's new Hawk fighter trainers on the Denel assembly line. Picture: SUPPLIED

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is opposed to the government selling a stake in struggling state-run arms firm Denel and will fight attempts to force through salary cuts, the union said on Wednesday.

Denel, which makes weapons, missiles and armoured vehicles for the South African armed forces and clients in Africa, the Gulf and Europe, is battling to stay afloat after reporting a R1.7bn loss.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made shoring up ailing state-owned enterprises (SOEs) a priority and said last week that Denel was “ripe” for joint venture partnerships after Saudi Arabia offered to take a stake in the weapons manufacturer.

Unions are an important support base for the ANC, so Ramaphosa must tread carefully before next year’s parliamentary election.

“When you bring in an equity partner, there is always a likelihood that there will be jobs lost, so we, as Numsa, are opposed to any form of privatisation,” said the union’s regional secretary Jerry Morulane. “We also reject salary cuts for ordinary workers at Denel. They should find other ways to guarantee the future of the company.” 

Numsa and union Solidarity account for roughly half of Denel’s workforce of 4,000 people. Earlier this week Solidarity rejected a proposal to cut Denel salaries by around 20 percent from the end of November but said it thought selling an equity stake was the only way to save the company.

REUTERS

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