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Tongaat HulettThe North Coast Courier writes that the human impact of the huge financial meltdown faced by sugar giant Tongaat Hulett bit this week, when 210 families living in the company compound were told to pack their bags.  

Workers were issued with their severance pay letters on Monday, with their employment officially terminating on 30 September.  They are but a fraction of the 5,000 people who have been handed notice since the company, the largest employer on the North Coast, began stringent cutbacks to avoid financial disaster.  The 210 workers living at Tongaat’s Maidstone Mill compound have also been served with eviction notices to vacate their homes.  Farm workers in the surrounding farms also face losing their jobs.  However, workers with children attending local schools have been granted a reprieve in their eviction notice until the end of November to accommodate their children completing the school year.  In a shareholder note issued on 31 May, Tongaat Hulett advised that a financial review had revealed that “certain past practices” did not reflect the company’s business performance accurately.  The company’s equity in its 2018 financial results had been overstated by between R3.5 billion to R4.5 billion.  Industry experts have claimed that the sugar market has been in crisis for more than 10 years now, and in SA specifically, sugar production has dropped by around a third between 2002 and 2012.  Company spokesperson Michelle Jean-Louis confirmed that “notice of retrenchment and appropriate severance packages” had been issued to a number of workers on some of the farms, but declined to provide details on the eviction notices.


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