TransNamib to retrench 43 per cent of workforce

TransNamib will retrench 43 per cent of its workforce (963 employees) by 31 March this year, to ease pressure on the railway parastatal’s strained finances and improve its productivity and efficiency.

After the retrenchment exercise, the company is expected to remaining with only 732 employees.

TransNamib’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Hippy Tjivikua told Nampa upon enquiry on Wednesday that the company will embark on the “right sizing exercise” in order to narrow the focus to the company’s core business activities.

He said one of the divisions that will be affected the most is Civil Engineering, which employs 447 people, mostly engineers in the area of road transportation.

Nearly all of them (445) will be retrenched.

Tjivikua said the personnel in this division are not essential for the company’s core business.

He, however, said the company will in future be looking to recruit a few engineers who are skilled in servicing and preserving locomotives. They will also need about four rail maintenance engineers for quality assurance in order to make sure the work is done correctly.

The TransNamib acting chief said most of the civil engineering work at the company will be done by subsidiary company, Namibia Rail Construction Pty Limited, which has been tasked with the responsibility of improving the railway lines countrywide.

“We are planning to focus more on the company’s core business activities,” he said.

The company’s core business activities include bulk rail freight, containers, locomotives and wagon repairs as well as rail passenger transportation.

Other areas to be affected by the retrenchment exercise are vehicle maintenance (110 employees); road operations (134 employees); service delivery (227 employees); Rail South Africa operations (20) employees; Communications and Marketing (27 employees).

Meanwhile, Nampa has learnt that TransNamib is to hold discussions with the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) to discuss the “right sizing exercise”.

The restructuring exercise at TransNamib is part of the company’s turnaround plan, which was to be implemented over a period of 18 months, from September 2014.

According to a memorandum signed jointly by Tjivikua and Natau’s Senior Shop Steward David Tjombe on 13 January 2015, the restructuring exercise was to be implemented due to the financial losses incurred by the company over a number of years.

“The transport and logistic sectors have become more competitive and most of our tools of trade (rolling stock, vehicles and equipment) have aged with some being beyond their lifespans with serious inefficiencies,” the joint memo reads.

Tjivikua and Tjombe said these state of affairs at the parastatal had left them with no choice but to review the organization’s service offerings and to start distinguishing between TransNamib’s core and non-core business so that they can embark on the “right sizing exercise”.

TransNamib said all the relevant stakeholders had been notified about the restructuring exercise, which will be done within the framework of the Labor Act (Act No 11 of 2007).

The memorandum indicated that the “right sizing exercise” will start with a voluntary retirement and exit program in early February 2015.

It is anticipated that this process will be concluded by 31 March 2015.