Paper and pulp group Sappi cuts 189 jobs

Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday confirmed having received four section 189 layoff notifications in the past month, from paper and pulp group Sappi's (SAP) Ngodwana, Enstra, Richards Bay and Tugela mills.

The union said that about 959 employees may be affected in terms of the notifications.

Solidarity said it was currently engaged in intense talks with a view to consolidating the four processes so that they could be handled simultaneously at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Solidarity spokesperson Ilze Nieuwoudt said the trade union requested consolidation of the four layoff processes in order to speed up the process and to shorten the time of stress and uncertainty for the employees. “Solidarity will investigate alternatives to the layoffs during the consultations and will seek to reduce the number of affected people,” Nieuwoudt said.

Sappi meanwhile, had indicated its acceptance of the proposal, confirming that the consolidated consultation process would commence in early January.

The latest spate of layoffs was preceded by a restructuring process in the company's human resources, buying and communication divisions during October and November this year. That process would have affected some 200 Sappi employees, Solidarity said.

Meanwhile the company was also forced into axing 156 employees earlier this year owing to the closing down of its Adamas mill.

“SA's forestry and paper and pulp industries are under enormous pressure because the same products can be imported much cheaper, especially from China,” Nieuwoudt said. Earlier this year the trade union already warned that the Sappi layoffs were probably only the beginning of a spate of layoffs at the company as well as in the industry. “However, the extensive layoffs which have now begun at Sappi came earlier than expected and the timing thereof, right at the start of the festive season and with the new school year coming up, is lamentable,” the spokesperson said.

Source: IOL