Flood-hit Sapref to retrench 350 workers

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
Sapref, SA's largest crude oil refinery, will retrench 350 workers.
Sapref, SA's largest crude oil refinery, will retrench 350 workers.

South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref) based in Durban announced on Friday it will retrench 350 employees after extensive damage to its plant during the devastating floods last year.

The company has about 700 employees, which means half its workforce is being retrenched. 

Sapref said in a statement: “In April 2022 Durban experienced severe flooding which resulted in Sapref refinery submerged in up to 3m of water, resulting in extensive flood damage. 

“The flooding resulted in severe damage to the refinery requiring intensive capital investment of about three-five years' duration, for repair due to damage of long lead items including process control room components and electrical substations.”

Given the estimated duration of the repairs and “uncertainties on the future of the refinery”, it said it had taken a decision to “right size the organisation”. 

It started a consultation process with staff in October last year which was done through a CCMA-facilitated process with labour representatives and trade union Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers' Union (Ceppwawu).

“A total of five CCMA facilitation sessions were held exceeding the legislated four sessions and 60-day period. 

“Initially 492 staff were potentially affected but at the end 350 employees are to be retrenched.”

All Sapref employees have been offered psychological care through the employee assistance programme (EAP).

Those who will be retrenched and their families are offered access to the EAP for up to six months from their date of termination, the company said. 

“All employees have also been offered financial guidance and individual sessions with a financial planner.

“Retrenched employees will be given priority consideration in the event of future availability of employment opportunities.”


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