Ship repair company Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH) Namibia (EBHN) has announced that it has secured an agreement with the Mining, Metal, Maritime & Construction (MMMCU) Union, resulting in the company withdrawing its intention to embark on unilateral retrenchments.
“We are extremely pleased to have concluded an amicable agreement with the union regarding the retrenchment process, following some two months of constructive engagement and negotiation. To arrive at a mutually agreed solution is a positive step forward for both parties; as well as being in the best interests of our employees,” says Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer at EBHN.
EBHN Management and the union agreed on several points relating to the retrenchment process, including terms surrounding an early retirement option and the criteria for selecting those employees to be retrenched.
“It has been an extremely challenging time for all of us at EBH Namibia, and particularly for those affected by the retrenchments. To lose some of our valued staff is deeply regrettable, and we have made every conceivable effort to ensure the least number of retrenchments as possible under the circumstances.
It has always been our policy to care for our people as individuals, team members and valuable contributors to the success of the company. It is our sincere hope that the financial support provided to those affected by this process will be of real assistance to them as they go forward in their lives and careers,” says Uys.
EBHN announced its stabilisation plan in April 2016, in the wake of a 50% decline in revenue as a result of the sustained low oil price and subsequent decrease in docking activity. The stabilisation plan included first and foremost several ‘non-HR’ performance improvement projects (PIP) and cost-cutting initiatives.
“Our PIP initiatives are not only aimed at short-term cost reduction and performance improvement; but will be the essential operational ‘compass’ by which we will steer this ‘ship’ going forward to ensure that we are sustainable in the long-term,” Uys points out.
For EBHN, retrenchments were a ‘last resort’ which was unfortunately unavoidable, given the current oil crisis and prevailing market conditions.
“It was crucially important to appropriately re-size and scale the business in accordance with prevailing market conditions; in order to ensure the company’s continued viability and long-term sustainability.
Furthermore, it should be noted that, while we are now looking forward to a resurgence of the global oil, gas and maritime sector (conservatively projected for mid-to-late 2017), we are also exploring a number of diversification opportunities in order to decrease our exposure in only one key market.
This is also part of our ‘PIP’ and continuous improvement approach moving forward, ensuring we are able to be agile and flexible, with a more diverse offering to our clients,” Uys advises.
He adds: “Skills retention is critical to our business going forward, to ensure our well-known high levels of quality and client service continue. To this end we have taken a very strategic and selective approach to our re-sizing process, to ensure that the company is still appropriately resourced and can quickly and effectively respond to any market resurgence going forward.
Creating a better level of flexibility in terms of staff numbers in relation to project activity, I believe, will serve us well in the future.”
“This agreement represents an extremely important milestone in our stabilisation process – the final results of which we will measure at end of our current fiscal year in March 2017.
Ultimately, this agreement together with our stringent adherence to the ethos of PIP and continuous improvement going forward, will pave the way for EBH Namibia to continue our role as an important contributor to Namibia’s economy and as a major service provider on the west coast of Africa, to the international maritime and offshore oil and gas industry,” Uys concludes.