Saab Unions: Bankruptcy Two Weeks Away If Pay Is Delayed (And It Will Be)

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Saab has already warned its workers that paychecks due tomorrow could be delayed until “committed” funds from investors arrive, but Bloomberg reports that the warning may not be enough. According to the report

Any delay in the August payments will prompt the unions immediately to start a process aimed at ensuring state coverage of wages in the event of the carmaker’s failure, officials from the IF Metall and Unionen labor groups said. The unions, after gaining employees’ backing, would first file payment requests with Saab. If salaries remain unpaid in seven days, the unions may then ask a district court to declare Saab bankrupt.

That could put Saab into bankruptcy in as little as two weeks. Saab’s long nightmare seems to be drawing to a close.

Though Saabsunited is predictably highlighting a supportive comment from an ostensible worker, the unions are not happy. A Unionen rep tells

If salaries are delayed for the third time this summer, it’s obviously completely unacceptable. We know there’s a strong sense of loyalty among employees, but the question is if the boundary for this loyalty hasn’t been reached

IF Metall is equally at the end of its rope, telling Bloomberg

We must start the process, as there’s no alternative to our moving to protect our members’ wages. Later, if we don’t see a solution, we’ll likely be forced to act.

Saab meanwhile, insists that it is

doing everything we can to prevent salaries being paid late this time, but there’s still a risk that will happen. Paying the salaries is our No. 1 priority, and our second priority is to restart production.

But, having audited at least one of Saab’s bank accounts, the Swedish Debt Enforcement Office (Kronofogden) questions whether the money is there to both pay off suppliers and pay workers. The Kronofogden’s Hans Ryberg tells that the first two suppliers in line, Kongsberg and Infotiv, need to be paid in about a week… and that they’ll take any money intended for Saab’s employees if they can find it. Per thelocal’s report

But the Enforcement Agency’s search for Saab’s money is also ongoing. Their goal is to find and collect the 163 million kronor that various creditors have asked for.

If they find the account containing employees’ wages, which according to Saab’s intentions ought to contain roughly 100 million kronor within the next couple of days, the money will be levied.

“Saab’s suppliers also have employees waiting for salaries,” explained Hans Ryberg, manager of Uddevalla’s enforcement division

So, in order to pay workers, Saab has to sneak money to them before the Kronofogden finds it and gives it to suppliers. If workers don’t get paid, Saab goes bankrupt. But if the suppliers, who are supposed to be paid first, don’t get their money, you get the same outcome. In other words, hang tight: we’re looking at about two more weeks of this sad tale, and then we’ll all be able to get on with life.

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2 of 39 comments
  • Seanx37 Seanx37 on Aug 24, 2011

    Two more weeks of this? Damn, good thing this happened in summer, when there is nothing but baseball to watch.

  • Lokki Lokki on Aug 25, 2011

    Every now and then I find myself daydreaming that a bankruptcy fire-sale priced new SAAB might be a lot of fun but then I laugh myself out of it. And then the thought creeps back in. How low would the price have to go before it would be a good deal?

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