Sappi may cut jobs in restructuring

2011-12-13 09:10

Pulp and paper group Sappi said yesterday 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) has said that the company intends to cut more than 1 200 jobs by February/March as part of the overall restructuring process.

But Sappi spokesperson Andre Oberholzer said on Monday that 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 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.

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 SA.

Sappi’s Ralph Boettger said in October that the 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 SA would lead to significant additional reduction of jobs during the first half of the next financial year.

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

Ceppwawu said it was mobilising support from the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the International Chemical, Energy, Mining Federation to resist what it calls a “jobs bloodbath” 

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