Job cuts at EBHN

Following a sustained low oil price and the subsequent drop in docking, Elgin Brown & Hamer are forced to look at voluntary retrenchment and early retirement.

30 January 2018 | Business

The management of Elgin Brown & Hamer Namibia (EBHN) confirmed on Friday that the Walvis Bay-based company had entered into another round of restructuring.

A company official, however, rubbished rumours that started circulating on Friday that 88 employees, of whom seven are allegedly senior personnel, have been retrenched.

“You can have a look for yourself. There is no chaos at the floating docks as is purported by certain sources. The situation is normal and the workflow is happening uninterrupted.”

The company said via a statement that it initially briefed staff members about the possibility of further restructuring on 7 December 2017 and that early retirement and voluntary retrenchment options would be offered to employees to keep compulsory retrenchments to a minimum.

EBHN acting CEO Heritha Nankole Muyoba said the company remains committed to following due process by complying with all legislative requirements and ensuring that the restructuring is conducted with a high level of professionalism, sensitivity and fairness.

“Going forward, we will retain our unwavering focus on quality and safety, with an absolute commitment to delivering exceptional value-adding solutions to our clients.”

A formal notification was issued to the Office of the Labour Commissioner, the Mining Metal Maritime and Construction Workers Union (MMMC), which is the recognised union and non-bargaining unit on Monday 22 January 2018.

Negotiations with MMMC subsequently commenced on Tuesday 23 January.

In terms of this process, EBH is working closely with the union, the EBH Namibia Workers Representative Committee (WRC) and the Namibian Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Ministry (Office of the Labour Commissioner).

The company explained that because of depressed oil prices and the knock-on effect on the offshore support and ship repair sector, it had undertaken a process of continuous evaluation of all possible steps to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the business.

Despite these measures, continuing economic pressures required that the established ship repair company further address its employment dispensation, in order to ensure continued viability going forward.

EBHN announced its stabilisation plan in April 2016 in the wake of a 50% decline in revenue because of the sustained low oil price and subsequent decrease in docking activity. The plan involved several 'non-HR' performance improvement projects and cost-cutting initiatives.

The company then made early retirement and voluntary retrenchment options available across the entire staff spectrum to reduce the numbers of employees retrenched involuntarily.

At the time of the decision to retrench employees, EBH Namibia employed 551 people (466 permanent staff and 85 fixed-term contractors). Of the 102 employees retrenched because of poor business, 82 opted for voluntary separation; while ultimately only 20 employees had to take compulsory retrenchment. The last working day for those affected by the retrenchments was 29 July 2016.

Back then, the company said there was a possibility that it would be able to re-employ some of those who had to be retrenched when the oil price strengthens.

In light of this, the company intended to form a 'pool' of Namibian FTCs that it could call on as and when future projects require additional resources.



OTIS FINCK

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