Thursday, 11 February 2016

African Sun offloads contract workers

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

HOTEL group African Sun Limited has terminated contracts for dozens of its workers as part of measures to streamline its operations.

About 30 workers from Elephant Hills Resort who were on contract stopped work on January 31 after being told that their contracts would not be renewed.

Some had worked for between 15 and 20 years.

Those affected are from guest services maintenance, housekeeping, grounds, food and beverages among others.

Besides Elephant Hills Resort, others were sent home from other branches such as Kingdom and Hwange Safari Lodge, which are all under new management — Legacy Group.

The group’s board a few days ago rendered about 40 other workers jobless after it resolved to shut down operations at its loss making Beitbridge Express Hotel.

This was after the hotel recorded a loss amounting to $217,910 for the year ending December 31, 2015 and a debt accumulation of $507,910 for the past two years.

Responding to e-mail questions, the group’s chief executive officer, Edwin Shangwa, confirmed the terminations but could not be drawn into giving numbers.

“African Sun Limited group undertook and concluded a major retrenchment exercise in August 2015.

The company continues to review its business model and entire operations spectrum and retrenchment is always a possibility if any of the viability assessments underway render it the inevitable option,” he said.

Shangwa said termination of contracts was one of the many ways adopted by the hotel group to streamline its operations towards a robust turnaround.

Last year the group joined other firms across the country who sent home hundreds of workers following a Supreme Court ruling that gave employers the green light to terminate contracts on three months’ notice.

“Retrenchment is a legal option available to any management wherever and whenever they deem it unavoidable in the course of managing shareholder investments. It’s, however, not an overarching and permanent strategy but is contingent upon prevailing and internal and external business environmental conditions,” said Shangwa.

He said business was on the negative as evidenced by the closure of the Beitbridge Express Hotel.
“Pertaining to the Beitbridge Express Hotel closure, the African Sun Limited board took a well-considered view that the Beitbridge market would be untenable for the continued sustenance of our hotel there solely on an assessment relevant and restricted to that market,” Shangwa explained.

“The Beitbridge market has seen an exponential slump in demand coupled with an oversupply of rooms in the last three years. In their assessment, the board concluded that the hotel was unlikely to return to profitably in the foreseeable future and keeping it open would only have eroded value for the broader group.”

The group also runs Holiday Inn, Troutbeck Resort and Monomotapa Hotels.

The tourism industry has been facing viability challenges for sometime in the wake of suppressed arrivals. The situation has also been blamed on high charges for services with players seeking the scrapping of the 15 percent tourism levy, which was introduced last year.

Source: African Sun offloads contract workers (10/02/16)

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