Witvlei Meat to retrench 160 workers

28 Jan 2015 12:49pm
WINDHOEK, 25 JAN (NAMPA) – About 160 Witvlei Meat employees in the Omaheke Region stand to lose their jobs at the end of this month.
The company's Managing Director, Hendri Badenhorst told Nampa on Sunday that the company is looking at various options not to retrench its workers after government allocated only a small portion of the 1 600 tonnes for meat exports to the Norwegian market.
The quota allocation has always divided on a 50/50 basis between Witvlei Meat and the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) during the past years.
However, government changed the allocation with the introduction of a new bidding process based on a specific Cabinet criteria. The quota allocation was changed in December 2013 when an export quota of 350 tonnes of beef was awarded to Witvlei Meat, while Meatco was able to send 1 200 tonnes to Norway, and Brukkaros Meat Processors (BMP) was awarded a quota of 100.
BMP did however not manage to obtain an export permit. Only Meatco and Witvlei Meat submitted bids for export quotas for 2015.
“We do not want to close doors. We already took the matter to the Supreme Court after government announced the slashing of the meat quota last year. The quota is too small and we cannot operate with it. We hope that the outcome of the court case can restore the original quota allocation,” he stressed.
Witvlei made it clear to government that it cannot operate with such a small quota and the financial implications could be worrisome, according to Badenhorst. He said Witvlei welcomes any new entrant in the business, but the quota should then be split equally between the three parties.
This will encourage competition in the interest of the Namibian economy, according to Badenhorst.
Meanwhile, Meatco announced last year that if Witvlei Meat terminates its operations in the slaughter facility, and exits the lease agreement with Agribank, it will operate the slaughter facility and guarantee the security of all employees. However, Meatco reserved the right not to retain the management.
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, told Nampa that government was not yet informed of the retrenchments.
Officials in the Ministry of Trade and Industry said the minister, Calle Schlettwein was also not available for comment as he is attending a meeting in Norway, Oslo to discuss a beef quota review.