Namibia shipyard negotiates job cuts deal with union

AUGUST 12, 2016 — After nine weeks of negotiation, Walvis Bay, Namibia, ship repairer EBH Namibia has reached an agreement on labor cutbacks with the Mining Metal Maritime and Construction (MMMC) union. As a result, it says, it has managed to reduce recent job cuts (which it calls "retrenchments") to a minimum and to ensure that most of the separations are voluntary.

At the time it decided job cuts were necessary, the shipyard employed 551 people – 466 permanent staff and 85 fixed-term contractors (FTCs). Of the 102 employees that have now been "retrenched", 82 opted for voluntary separation; while ultimately only 20 employees had to take compulsory retrenchment.

"Of the 82 employees voluntarily retrenched, there were 17 in the 55 – 62 year age bracket, of whom seven volunteered for early retirement," explains Hannes Uys, CEO of EBH Namibia. "It is also noteworthy that 71.3% of those leaving EBH Namibia opted for early retirement or voluntary retrenchment; and that compulsory retrenchments made up less than 30% of the total number of employees retrenched."

The last working day for those affected by the job cuts was July 29.

"It is a painful decision to have to retrench and not something we took lightly," says Uys. "There is the very real possibility that, when the oil price strengthens, we will be able to re-employ some of those whom we have just had to retrench."

With a view to this, the company intends forming a pool of Namibian FTCs to call on as and when future projects require additional resources.

"It is widely predicted that a resurgence of the oil price is very likely to occur in mid to late 2017," says Uys. "The tough measures that we are being compelled to take now will ultimately ensure a stronger and more sustainable EBH Namibia; which will be ready to take full advantage of the upturn when it comes."

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