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PRETORIA - The bleeding of jobs by South Africa’s construction sector is continuing, with Aveng giving notice of its intention to retrench further permanent employees in the group.

It follows thousands of retrenchments by Aveng in the past three years and most of the country’s major construction companies experiencing financial difficulties, because of a lack of major projects, late and delayed payments from the government and problem contracts.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said yesterday that it had received a Section 189 notice from Aveng Grinaker-LTA to retrench 2863 workers.

However, an Aveng spokesperson said the NUM statement was “crazy”, stressing that the 2863 number quoted in the statement was the total headcount of wage-earning employees in Aveng Grinaker-LTA, not the number of employees affected by the retrenchment process.

The spokesperson said the Aveng Grinaker-LTA retrenchment process affected 120 permanent positions.

“Aveng Grinaker-LTA has been formally engaging with its representative unions, being the NUM, Numsa (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) and Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union), since October 2017, in a CCMA-facilitated Section 189 retrenchment process in terms of which 120 permanent positions in the Aveng Grinaker-LTA Building business unit are affected,” the spokesperson said.

Attempts to obtain clarity on the retrenchment figures from the NUM were unsuccessful.

The NUM statement said the union was “worried and saddened” that Aveng Grinaker-LTA was likely to retrench such a huge number of workers at a time when there was such a high rate of unemployment in the country.

“We would like to call on Aveng Grinaker-LTA to rethink its position to retrench. They must create opportunities for job creation rather maximising profits at the expense of the poor construction workers who earn poverty wages.

“Aveng Grinaker-LTA said it was retrenching due to most of its projects coming to an end and no future projects awarded to the company,” it said.