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Meatco’s downscale “worrisome”

“390, almost 400 people, its not a small amount of people who are now going to be unemployed,” said
Tom Alweendo, Director General of the National Planning Commission, in response to Meatco’s decision to not renew contracts of its temporary employees next month.
“I think these are more or less contracts that regularly get renewed giving people a steady income, now all of a sudden they do not have an income. Obviously this is a worrying trend. And in the Namibian sense, when one person loses their job (unlike other countries where probably one guy and his wife and two kids), it affects one’s wife, kids, nephews and nieces that’s looking to you for monthly allowances,” he said.
Meatco CEO, Adv. Vekuii Rukoro, this week announced that the corporation will not renew the contracts of approximately 464 temporary workers when they come to an end next month.
He said, the corporation had two choices to either retrench some of its workers or to scale down operations at both factories so they decided not to renew the contracts of all temporary workers and  retain all permanent employees.
“Basically, instead of going on a general cost cutting exercise, we decided to manage the cost only, in order to manage the cost, we decided not to renew the contracts of our seasonal or temporary employees when it ends in August,” he said.
He further said that the corporation has also invited staff who are 55 to 65 years old to opt for early retirement and only 27 staff members opted to take their retirement sooner resulting in 27 vacancies which will now be made available to some of the temporary workers and will give them a chance to become employed at Meatco on a permanent basis.
Meatco usually employees temporary workers from January to August every year.
Annually, the period between October and February each year is known as the off-season in the slaughter cattle industry, when abattoir throughputs are at their lowest levels. During this year, abattoir throughput started to decline considerably in July. For August 2013, Meatco have only 6 000 cattle available for slaughter.
The supply of slaughter cattle in Namibia is now reaching near critical levels, Meatco forecasts a throughput of 78 000 cattle at two of its export facilities (Windhoek and Okahandja) for 2014. This is a very low number and they said they will not be able to economically sustain operations at both facilities.
Upon inquiry, The Namibia Food and Allied Union (NAFAU) this week told The Economist that they were still under the impression that discussions are underway and that no formal decision have been made yet.
“At this moment, we cant comment on this matter because we are not well informed on what the issues are. But we understand that discussions are underway, we are only meeting the workers on Thursday at the Okahandja and Windhoek abattoirs from there we will engage management and then we can comment,” said Simon Muukapo, NAFAU, Branch organiser.
Meatco has a permanent Staff complement of 1,398 workers.

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