Business

Sappi job security on the line with restructuring

Andries Mahlangu

Paper group Sappi says the ongoing restructuring within its South African operations might include retrenchments at some of its production plants.

Pulp and paper group Sappi said on Monday the ongoing restructuring within its South African operations might include retrenchments at some of its production plants.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) revealed that the company intended to cut more than 1 200 jobs by February/March next year as part of the overall restructuring process.

But Sappi spokesperson Andre Oberholzer said the union’s figures were premature, noting that talks in this regard were still to be held under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration at a date yet to be decided.

Ceppwawu said in a statement that a specified number of workers at Sappi Enstra Plant (Gauteng), Sappi Tugela (KwaZulu-Natal), Sappi Saiccor (KwaZulu-Natal), Sappi Stanger (KwaZulu-Natal) and Sappi Ngodwana (Mpumalanga) would be retrenched.

“At no stage has the Sappi executive involved the union in any discussions or consultations about the overall restructuring and repositioning of Sappi,” the union said.

‘Jobs bloodbath’
But Oberholzer said the company had consulted all the unions in a “detailed process” since 2010. The other unions are Solidarity and United Association of South Africa.

Sappi’s Ralph Boettger said in October that restructuring would position the group for improved returns and growth in the shorter and longer term.

The company said the restructuring of its business processes and paper operations in South Africa would lead to significant additional reduction of jobs during the first half of financial 2012.

Oberholzer added that staff at its support services, which included human resources, finance, procurement and communication, might be retrenched.

Ceppwawu said it was mobilising support from Congress of South African Trade Unions and the International Chemical, Energy, Mining Federation to resist what it calls a “jobs bloodbath”.—I-Net Bridge

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