Central Gauteng Lions explain retrenchments costing 15 jobs at cricket franchise

Jono Leaf-Wright (CEO) of the Lions during the Imperial Lions season media launch at Imperial Wanderers Stadium on October 27, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Jono Leaf-Wright (CEO) of the Lions during the Imperial Lions season media launch at Imperial Wanderers Stadium on October 27, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Central Gauteng Lions chief executive officer Jono Leaf-Wright was at pains to explain the fairness of the retrenchment process at the Lions that has led to the losses of more than 15 jobs.

The Lions‚ one of the biggest and most important franchises in the cricket pipeline‚ served a retrenchment notice to employees on August 7.

The affiliate‚ which for the better part of the year was embroiled in a protracted and bitter governance issue with regards to the composition of their board‚ shed jobs in the stadium management‚ finance and administration‚ marketing and corporate communications and cricket services departments.

According to the August 7 letter‚ the Lions were forced onto the Section 189 process because of financial pressures that were exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak.

By taking this measure‚ the Lions have become the first affiliate to shed jobs in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and other financial pressures.

“The company has experienced financial losses over the last three years; [which for] the 2018-19 financial year was in excess of R8-million. It is anticipated that the loss for the 2019-20 financial year will also be in the region of R8-million‚” Leaf-Wright said in the letter.

“This will include the impact of Covid-19 for the months of March and April 2020. The company recorded losses for the first three months of the 2020-2021 season.

“Most of these financial concerns have arisen prior to 2020‚ but have certainly been exacerbated by the current Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed by the South African government at present.

“As a result‚ the company is facing extreme cash flow pressure and is unfortunately now in a position which it considers necessary to assess its financial operational requirements in light of payroll and other operational costs and revenue.”

In a set of nine questions sent to him by TimesLIVE‚ Leaf-Wright had a summarised response‚ saying that the process was transparent.

“CGL as a responsible employer approached the CCMA and the entire process was facilitated by the CCMA to ensure a fair and transparent process‚ this included all parties agreeing to all the related processes‚ alternatives to retrenchments and selection criteria for vacancies and retrenchments should it be unavoidable‚” Leaf-Wright wrote.

“The application and selection processes related to vacancies were agreed to by all parties and all parties were represented during these processes.”

In four redesigned organograms TimesLIVE has seen‚ savings in the marketing and corporate communications department were to amount to R48‚000 per month while the finance and administration department had a forecasted saving of R70‚000 per month.

The stadium management and cricket services departments were listed with monthly savings of R15‚000 and R65‚800 respectively.

In the August 7 letter‚ Leaf-Wright offered five alternative options in short-term layoff‚ short time‚ reduced salaries‚ voluntary retrenchments and early retirements.

No cost-cutting attempts were mentioned in the letter and when asked whether CGL embarked on cost-saving measures before the retrenchment route‚ Leaf-Wright did not go into detail with regards to whether this avenue was pursued.

“Building a sustainable and an economically viable entity has been and will always be a priority for CGL‚ over the last 12 months we’ve worked hard to sustain income whilst reviewing all expenses and finding smarter ways to do business‚” Leaf-Wright said.