Retrenchments eminent at Walvis salt refiners

26 October 2021 | Labour

Leandrea Mouers


Employees of Walvis Bay Salt Holdings recently held a demonstration and handed over a petition to management concerning planned retrenchments at the company.

Petrus Petrus, the regional secretary of the Mine Workers Union’s (MUN) western branch, questioned the retrenchments in light of the company having made a 40% profit.

“We are dismayed and disappointed by management,” he said, adding that the company confirmed it had experienced high volumes of demand and wasn’t facing any financial difficulties.

“The company wants to get rid of permanent employees and re-employ them on a casual basis,” he said, and added that “after a good year of productivity and good returns, they want to reward employees by sending them into the street and later turn them into shift labourers”.

He said the company does not have any grounds to retrench employees.

“The drive for the retrenchment is based on draconic behaviour fuelled by capitalism with the aim to maximise profit at the expense of workers.”

The union also accused managing director Andre Snyman of nepotism.

MUN demanded that the company stop the retrenchment process and do away with the idea of outsourcing jobs.

“The company should rather employ all casual workers on a permanent basis. We also want Snyman to resign.”

Not to standard

Meanwhile, Snyman did not dispute the fact that Walvis Bay Salt Holdings is performing well financially. “However, we have certain departments that are not performing well and which are not breaking even. The company has various profit centres and not all are performing to the required standards.”

He emphasised that if the company doesn’t act now, it could run the risk of some of these profit centres being shut down.

“We want to prevent this by trying to optimise performance. For example, our loading plant is utilised four to six days a month. The majority of our employees are permanent and we at all times try and engage with them to find the best potential solution to make the impact on an employee as minimal as possible.”

The company identified the loading plant as well as the bagging plant as departments that are not performing well.

“There are some inefficiencies. In terms of supply, the amount of salt provided to the Ekango plant also needs to be addressed, but that is a minor issue.”

Snyman added that the strategy envisioned for the loading plant is to fully outsource it.

On workers demanding his registration, he said this is in the hands of the board. “The board has to make that decision.”

Walvis Bay Salt Holdings has about 160 employees, with 25 who may be affected by the envisioned restructuring.

Snyman refuted the allegations of nepotism, saying “it is a blatant lie”.

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