And this is how it usually ends. Saab spokesperson Gunilla Gustavs said “it is regrettable to have to notify staff of the day before midsummer,” that Saab is unable to pay this months wages to its employees. What’s more, Saab has no idea if and when it will send out paychecks again. “It is impossible to make any sort of forecast, except to repeat that the company is trying to solve this as quickly as possible,” said Gustavs to the wire-service TT [via TheLocal].
Saab employees were told via email this Thursday morning that no money will hit their accounts by month’s end.
“Of course it is in no way positive that the company has got in such a pickle that they can’t pay wages to their employees,” said Häkan Skött, of the Metall union to TT.
Svenåke Berglie, chairman of FKG, the trade association representing Scandinavian suppliers to the automotive industry, told TT that “it is very worrying that they can’t even give a prognosis.”
On Monday, Saab suppliers were given an ultimatum: Agree by Tuesday to accept ten percent on past due payments, with the balance payable in September, and start shipping parts on Victor Muller’s version of C.O.D. (5 - 6 days after delivery.) Tuesday came and went without a solution. On Wednesday, the press received a “no comment.”
In today’s press release, Saab says that there are “ongoing negotiations with suppliers in reaching agreement on the terms of payments.” Bottom line: No deal with the suppliers. No money for the workers.
According to Trollhättan’s hometown paper TTELA, the city is already gearing up to support Saab workers in dire straits. The welfare department of Trollhättan however warns that a waiting time of four of five weeks could be involved. The city is ready to render immediate help for people who have been “without food for days.”
I am not familiar with Swedish law, but if it is anywhere like in the rest of Europe, then the situation is extremely serious. Wages and taxes are sacred. Typically, if wages are not paid on time, bankruptcy is next. According to Dagens Industri, the union is already preparing a bankruptcy petition. The paper explains that for workers receiving unemployment benefits, the company must be in reorganization or out of business.
Update: Reuters talked to the unions at Saab and was told that there will be a written demand for payment on Monday. “Then the company has seven days to react,” IF Metall representative Veli-Pekka Saikkala told Reuters. “After that there are two alternatives. Either we see that the situation can be solved, or we demand that Saab is put into bankruptcy”.