Retrenchment looms at national abattoir

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MASERU — Lesotho National Abattoir could be forced to retrench workers this month as a meat shortage that began in February persists, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Lesotho has been battling a severe meat crisis after South Africa imposed a ban on meat exports in February.
Sources at the abattoir said the meat export ban had hit the abattoir so hard that the board of directors of Meraka Lesotho, a private company running the abattoir, this week
resolved to retrench at least 14
workers out of the current 60 it employs.
The national abattoir is Lesotho’s only licensed importer of top quality Grade A beef, pork and mutton.
A highly placed source said the board resolved to retrench some employees after realising that South Africa might not be lifting the ban on exports anytime soon.
“Keeping the staff at a time when business is not productive would surely not be in the best interest of the abattoir,” said the source.
“This is purely a business decision based on the market performance,” he said.
The human resources manager at Meraka Lesotho, Poloko Mokone, said he was not aware of the looming retrenchment.
“I am hearing this for the first time,” Mokone said.
He referred further questions to the company’s board chairperson, ’Mammako Molapo.
Molapo’s phone was on voicemail.
Another board member, Thabo Moroahae, could neither confirm nor deny that the board had resolved to lay off some workers.
He declined to comment saying it was only Molapo who was entitled to talk to the press.
The Lesotho Times understands that the board was still to break the news to staff.
Meraka Lesotho’s marketing officer, Thabo Qhesi, also declined to comment saying issues involving
the board should be directed to Molapo.
However, sources at the abattoir said the company was going to retrench workers who were recruited in October last year when the company began its operations.
“It boggles the mind why they are not going to retrench the recently recruited workers. They can’t decide to chop off the old workers in favour of the new ones who joined the abattoir in February this year,” a source said.
For the past four months Lesotho has been grappling to get quality meat after South Africa imposed a ban on exports following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in that country.
With the National Abattoir the only licensed importer of Grade A beef, pork and mutton, local butcheries have not had quality meat for months.
Pick n Pay Supermarket, one of the main sellers of quality meats, says it has been hard hit by the meat shortage.
Other butcheries like Benson’s in Maseru also opted to send workers home on forced leave last month
after they failed to get supplies.

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