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Boatbuilders face losses and retrenchments amid COVID-19 lockdown
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Boatbuilders face losses and retrenchments amid COVID-19 lockdown

SABBEX survey highlights plight of boatbuilders

SOUTH AFRICA: An electronic survey issued by the South African Boat Builders Export Council (SABBEX) to its members, highlights the plight of local boatbuilders as the country’s lockdown enters its second week with fears that it may be extended beyond the original end date of 16 April.

Almost half of the membership responded to the survey which paints a bleak picture for employees at many of the boat building companies. While about half of the respondents indicated that they are currently paying full salaries, at least 30 percent have already reduced salary payouts while the remainder have been forced to put employees on unpaid leave or try to access UIF and TERS funding.

Three respondents admitted to having already begun retrenchments while another has postponed the employment of two new staff members. The wage bill shortfall ranges between R90,000 and R1,000,000 per month for those who responded with a figure.

The lockdown period will not only affect employees, however, as many report struggling to pay suppliers and other creditors. As such the knock-on effect will be felt across the boatbuilding supply chain.

Despite the availability of government relief funds, many are battling to access the resources and expressed concern about the process of registering for funds from UIF for example. Many believe that their only option at this point is to access government help.

The outlook will surely worsen should the lockdown be extended with additional retrenchments or indefinite layoffs likely to become more widespread.

“We need to get back to work as ASAP to avoid loss of orders and to meet future show dates for longer term marketing,” said one respondent neatly summing up their predicament.


PHOTO: Boats on show at the Cape Town International Boat Show

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