O&L Leisure takes ‘urgent rescue measures’

Slash salaries, working hours

23 July 2021 | Business

Our focus remains on securing jobs and livelihoods in a sustainable manner while requiring a collective sacrifice by all. – Norbert Wurm, MD: O&L Leisure

Jo-Maré Duddy – The basic salaries of nearly 500 employees of O&L Leisure will be cut by between 25% and 50% for the next three months, the subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List Group said.

In addition, O&L Leisure will close two lodges in its portfolio, Chobe Water Villas and Mokuti Etosha Lodge, from 1 August to 1 October this year. Working hours at the company’s central office will also be reduced by between 25% and 50%.

The “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic has left the company with “no other choice” but to introduce “urgent rescue measures to safeguard the future sustainability of its business and mitigate the risk of the impact on an already crippled tourism sector,” the managing director of O&L Leisure, Norbert Wurm, said yesterday.

The basic salaries of 495 employees will be cut “depending on level of activity”. The decreases won’t apply to employees’ total cost-to-company, which includes allowances and benefits.

Strand Hotel Swakopmund will remain open for business with reduced operations and its Farmhouse Deli remaining in operation for in-house guests and take-away. Midgard Country Estate too will remain open for business and at full operation with ongoing training and construction for official opening towards the end of September, O&L Leisure said.

THIRD WAVE

According to Wurm, the company already reduced overtime costs and adjusted work schedules during the crisis, while “choosing not to resort to restructuring, retrenchments or mandatory salary reductions”.

“With the pandemic continuing to impact us negatively and the current government regulations and health measures including restrictions on trading in our restaurants and international travel regulations linked to infection levels, we are further hampered in our ability to operate our business resulting in this situation becoming unsustainable,” he added.

Wurm continued: “Our focus during and throughout this crisis has always been to trade our way out of this difficult situation, with emphasis on revenue generation, while reducing costs without reducing standards and simultaneously protecting livelihoods. Unfortunately, the third wave of the pandemic has hit the region and our business, like many others, hard especially during the second quarter of the year.”

‘EXHAUSTED ALTERNATIVES’

“In an effort to alleviate the pressure and safeguard the wellbeing of our employees and sustain our business, we unfortunately have no other choice but to take necessary measures to ensure we overcome the short-term challenges facing us. Having exhausted all other alternatives, our focus remains on securing jobs and livelihoods in a sustainable manner while requiring a collective sacrifice by all, whereby we urgently need to reduce our operating requirements in line with forecasted activity and in terms of section 12 of the Labour Act.

“These are trying times and while we had hoped to overcome this crisis, we now have the opportunity to become more resilient than ever before by collectively taking hands and pushing through this crisis, together,” Wurm said.