More SABS employees face retrenchments despite a staff cut of 109 people

Employees at the‌ ‌embattled South‌ ‌African‌ ‌Bureau‌ ‌of‌ ‌Standards‌ (SABS) are bracing for further retrenchments despite a R68-million reduction in company costs after more than 100 employees opted for early retirements or voluntary separation packages. 

The SABS‌ ‌was‌ ‌placed‌ ‌under‌ ‌administration‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌department‌ ‌of‌ ‌trade,‌ ‌industry‌ ‌and‌ ‌competition‌ ‌‌in‌ ‌October‌ ‌2018, and has since then implemented a ‌three-year‌ ‌turnaround‌ ‌strategy‌.

The Mail & Guardian reported in April that workers received a notice on 11 March informing them the SABS was contemplating‌ ‌reducing‌ ‌its‌ ‌headcount‌. Employees had, between 7 and 25 June, the opportunity to apply for early retirements or voluntary separation packages to avoid the dismissal of 170 employees. After receiving 121 applications, 109 applicants were successful. In total, the packages cost the SABS R73-million, excluding leave for the month of July. Employees who opted for this option will leave the organisation at the end of July.

The departure of the 109 employees will save the SABS R68 702 373.48 annually but falls short of the R150-million the organisation needs to reach. 

During a virtual staff meeting on Wednesday, employees were told the number of applications for early retirements and voluntary separation packages was “not enough” to reach the “required savings on the remuneration of employees”. 

“Therefore, a section 189 [ (3)‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Labour‌ ‌Relations‌ ‌Act‌] process is ongoing although the retrenchments, if it cannot be avoided, will be activated in September 2021.”

An employee who has been working at the company for eight years and who did not choose any of the departure packages, told M&G that they would not feel their jobs are safe until the “group executives have reached their goal”.

Employees were told that the SABS would continue to explore “alternatives to retrenchments” in July and August before implementing the retrenchment process in September.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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