16 March 2018

Namibia: Abattoir Considers Shorter Work Hours

The Brukarros Meat Processors (BMP) company near Keetmanshoop is considering introducing short working hours due to the prevailing drought and large numbers of livestock being exported to South Africa.

Short-time work is when employees are required to work and be paid for fewer than their normal hours per week due to a shortage of work.

The company, which employs more than 200 employees, on 1 March issued a notice to workers to inform them about its intention to introduce short-time work.

"Due to the following circumstances: the prevailing drought, and large numbers of livestock not being slaughtered in Namibia, we experienced severe low production throughout at the abattoir with a knock-on effect on our deboning division," the letter states.

The company believes that short-time work is in the interest of the workforce since it ensures the retention of job opportunities and the prevention of lay-offs.

BMP chief executive officer Brain Greeff yesterday confirmed that the company was contemplating to introduce short-time work, citing the short supply of livestock for slaughter at the abattoir as a contributing factor for the measure.

"If we do not take the short-time work measure, we would be forced to retrench workers," he stated.

He explained that the non-availability of sheep for slaughter has a negative impact on the company's cash flow.

This, he added, is further fuelled by the delayed payment of refunds on VAT to the company by the Receiver of Revenue.

Greeff said the company had gone for three to four days a week without slaughtering last month.

"In the past, we would send our workers home due to low productivity, but they were paid their full wages at the end of the month. If we continue this trend, we might just as well shut the abattoir," he remarked.

However, Greeff said since the beginning of this month, there has been a sharp increase in animals brought for slaughter at the abattoir.

"Livestock exporters are flooding the abattoirs with animals to increase their export quota," he speculated when asked about the sudden increase of supply to the abattoir.

The current sheep export ratio is 3:1.

Greeff said the abattoir is currently slaughtering 1 000 to 1 200 small livestock and 122 cattle per day, but was quick to point out that this trend would not last long, and sooner or later "we would be forced to implement short-time work".

"The livestock exporting scheme is killing abattoirs," said the businessman, referring to the recent closure of Farmer's Meat Market near Mariental.

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