Black workers suffer in Sun International jobs bloodbath

Johannesburg – Sun International, a top resort hotel chain and casino destination, has retrenched 2 500 employees, 95% of them black.

Shockingly, four black executive managers and three line managers were also let go and later replaced by whites, according to high-ranking officials at the group.

Sunday World can reveal that at least 1 300 employees were affected by the forced retrenchments at Sun International recently while another 1 200 opted for voluntary retrenchment.

The developments have brought to light the group’s transformation challenges, exposing the white-dominated top management structure with just two female managers in the entire stable and a handful of black managers.

The hardest-hit division at the company was the food, beverages, hospitality and conferencing division, which had thousands of black employees. Union members alleged that the company targeted the division knowing it had fewer white employees.

This sentiment was echoed by Thato Molamo, an activist in North West who said he raised the same issues with the CEO, but said his concerns were never attended to.

He said he also interrogated the CEO about the retrenchment of black managers and executives but received no response.

Sun International CEO Anthony Leeming confirmed that the hotel and casino chain retrenched more than 2 500 employees to survive the impact of COVID-19 on their business.

He also confirmed most of the affected employees were black but said this was because the division identified to have more staff members than required was coincidentally the food, beverages, hospitality and conferencing division, where more than 90% of the employees are black, with a few Indians and coloureds.

Leeming said the company tried its best to avoid forced retrenchments and said it had offered employees an opportunity to consider voluntary retrenchment and early retirement. But he said that only 1 200 employees took that opportunity while others resigned from the company during the process.

He said only 1 300 employees were subjected to forced retrenchment, and those mostly affected were attached to Sun City Resort in Rustenburg, North West.

Leeming said the company had initially planned to retrench 2 300 employees, but said it ended up releasing 2 500 employees across the group after more employees volunteered for retrenchment and early retirement.

“We didn’t target people but positions, and it was unfortunate that the division which was identified as being overstaffed was the food, beverages, hospitality and conferencing division, which had a lot of black employees,” he conceded.

Food, Beverages, Hospitality and Conferencing division was hit hardest

Leeming said the unions were consulted but said no solution was found, leaving the company with no option but to go ahead with the process.

He said only small casinos and hotels were affected by the retrenchment and only a fraction of the bigger casinos were affected.

Black workers suffer in Sun International job cuts Hotel and resort chain retrenches 2 500 people Food, Beverages, Hospitality and Conferencing division was hit hardest He said that no executive manager was affected by the retrenchments but some had resigned.

The CEO said the group has, as a way of saving a few jobs, advised 800 employees that they will be outsourced to provide services to some of the casinos and hotels.

About the company’s transformation, Leeming said Sun International had level one broadbased black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) status and had a number of black males in top management positions.

However, he conceded that the company was still struggling in terms of female representation in top management, saying that the company had only two female managers across the group.

The company said last week that cost-cutting efforts are bearing fruit, and as of end-September, the group’s South African debt, excluding lease liabilities, stood at R8.5-billion compared with R9.6-billion at end-June.

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