Durban – Tongaat Hulett has secured funding to pay its workers for December.
That is according to trade union, United Association of South Africa (Uasa), spokesperson Abigail Moyo, who said Tongaat Hulett workers would receive their December pay following a business rescue consultation last week.
“While it is pleasing that the company managed to secure money for salaries and 13th cheques, its financial state remains of concern,” Moyo said.
She said according to reports in November, Tongaat Hulett needed R1.5 billion to service about R6.3 billion in debt and continue its sugar milling season.
She also said that recently, the company announced measures to boost its sugar and animal feed production, which include:
- Crush all available cane by returning raw mills to optimal performance.
- Continue to invest in Tongaat Hulett’s white sugar premium brand.
- Increase raw and refined sugar produced by focusing on mill reliability and recoveries.
- Strengthening technical resources throughout their factory operations.
- Prioritising resources for planning and execution of annual off-crop maintenance.
- Identified known crucial repairs being addressed.
- Ongoing focus on refinery yield improvements.
- Accelerated in-house training programmes focusing on operating skills.
- Animal feed capacity benefits from improved raw sugar produced.
- Focus on cost leadership and margin optimisation throughout the value chain.
“Uasa urges Tongaat Hulett’s management and executives to take urgent action and save the company from demise. The turnaround time for production cannot hinge on the company’s ability to secure temporary funds with no sustainable plan,” Moyo said.
Last month, the members of the South African Cane Growers’ have accepted a proposal by the Tongaat Hulett Limited Business Rescue Practitioners that ensures payment of money owed to growers for cane delivered to Tongaat Hulett mills.
SA Canegrowers chairperson Andrew Russell said the agreement, which covers payments still outstanding to growers and industry service providers as well as the payments that will become due at the end of November for the cane delivered in October 2022, is a critical step to protecting the thousands of livelihoods at stake on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.