“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.