Third union demands Saab bankruptcy

IF Metall on Tuesday became the third trade union to ask a court to place cash-strapped carmaker Saab in bankruptcy in order to secure wages for its members.

Third union demands Saab bankruptcy

“We cannot wait any longer,” explained the IF Metall Union, which counts some 1,500 blue-collar members at Saab’s Trollhättan factory in southwestern Sweden, adding that the unanimous decision to apply for bankruptcy was reached at a meeting Tuesday.

IF Metall’s announcement came just over a week after two other unions, Unionen and Ledarna, requested that the troubled carmaker be declared bankrupt to ensure payment of wages to their mainly white-collar employees.

Saab, which was late paying salaries for June and July and has yet to pay August wages to its some 3,700 employees, meanwhile officially disputed the two first unions’ bankruptcy request.

The company argued in a statement Tuesday it was “not insolvent and (had) only temporary liquidity problems.”

Saab’s towers of unpaid bills to suppliers, which have resulted in a production halt basically since April, would soon be paid, it said, referring to a pending deal for large cash injection from two Chinese partners, Pang Da and Youngman.

Saab’s Dutch parent company Swedish Automobile has said it has about €150 million ($206 million) in outstanding debt, and that it is awaiting about €245 million from its Chinese partners once regulatory approvals go through, probably in November.

IF Metall said it had held off as long as possible with its bankruptcy request amid hope the carmaker would be granted the right to reorganise under bankruptcy protection — a process that would enable salaries to be paid even as other debt remained unsettled.

“It is a painful decision, but we have to secure salaries for our members and therefore cannot wait anymore,” the union said, stressing however that if an appeals court allows the carmaker to reorganise, the bankruptcy request would be void.

A district court initially turned down Saab’s application for bankruptcy protection, but a second court ruling is expected on the matter this week.

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Norwegian’s subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden go bankrupt

The struggling low-cost airline Norwegian has reported its staffing subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden have filed for bankruptcy, meaning roughly three quarters of its pilots and crew will lose their jobs.

Norwegian's subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden go bankrupt
A Norwegian Air Shuttle plane: Photo: Norwegian

In a press release issued on Monday afternoon, the airline said that the financial support packages offered by the Swedish and Danish government had not been sufficiently generous to keep the subsidiaries which employ pilots and cabin crew in the two countries solvent. 

”The impact the Coronavirus has had on the airline industry is unprecedented. We have done everything we can to avoid making this last-resort decision and we have asked for access to government support in both Sweden and Denmark”, said Norwegian's chief executive Jacob Schram in the statement.  

“Our pilots and cabin crew are the core of our business and they have done a fantastic job for many years.”

“It is heart-breaking that our Swedish and Danish pilot and cabin crew subsidiaries now are forced to file for bankruptcy, and I’m truly sorry for the consequences this will have for our colleagues,”  Norwegian's chief executive Jacob Schram said in the statement.  

“We are working around the clock to get through this crisis and to return as a stronger Norwegian with the goal of bringing as many colleagues back in the air as possible.”

The company said it was also immediately ending staffing deals with the OSM Aviation, which supplies it with crew based in Spain, UK, Finland, Sweden and the US.

The company said that 1,571 pilots and 3,134 cabin crew would be affected by the move, with only the 700 pilots and 1,300 cabin crew based in Norway, France and Italy being kept on.

In the release, the company blamed the “the lack of significant financial support” from the Swedish and Danish governments, which it contrasted with that of Norway, which has agreed to pay “all salary related costs” while staff are furloughed. 

The companies declared bankrupt include: 
Norwegian Pilot Services Sweden AB
Norwegian Pilot Services Denmark ApS
Norwegian Cabin Services Denmark ApS
Norwegian Air Resources Denmark LH ApS