BREAKING NEWS

Two-a-Day and Ceres Fruit Growers put even more measures in place to further protect staff from Covid-19

From left to right. Ashley Strauss (Forklift Driver) Denwill Philander (Packhouse Manager) Chantal Oosthuizen (Packer) Jolandy Davids (Packer) Caman Jones (Packer)

Last week 2700 bags of apples were handed out to underprivileged people in Greyton, Villiersdorp, Botriver and Grabouw. Two-a-Day and Ceres Fruit Growers will continue to do this for the coming weeks ahead.

From left to right: Ashley Strauss (Forklift Driver), Denwill Philander (Packhouse Manager), Chantal Oosthuizen (Packer), Jolandy Davids (Packer), Caman Jones (Packer), Sarel Ras (Production Line Manager) at Two-a-Day.

Collecting fruit for Child Welfare Grabouw were Ferguson Oppelt and Shirley Jonas. 

Leading Grabouw fruit processor, Two-a-Day, one of the shareholders of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears, has implemented a number of additional measures to protect staff from Covid-19.

According to Dimitri Jacobs, Two-a-Day Director of Human Resources, Two-a-Day has implemented additional measures to those required by legislation. “We want to make sure our employees feel safe whilst at work but also help government in its efforts to flatten the curve and stop the spread of Covid-19,” he says.

Jacobs adds that Two-a-Day has decided to pay employees on a Thursday instead of a Friday to reduce the impact on shops in town as most businesses pay their employees on Fridays and people have to queue which creates social distance problems. “We have also arranged with our commercial bank for two mobile ATMs on-site at Two-a-Day which means that our employees do not have to stand in long lines at the local banks in town. What is also great about this initiative is that even though they are ABSA ATMs, there are no transaction fees for employees should they be registered with another bank.”

“We have bought masks for all our employees which they can re-use after cleaning in line with the guidelines we communicated with them and we have procured flu injections for all employees who want them at no charge to them,” he says.

Jacobs explains that at Two-a-Day they have significantly reduced the number of employees on duty  and in some cases to less than half of the Packhouse’s maximum staff compliment. “This was a major decision for us as we needed to balance our operational requirements, the food security requirement of government and keeping our employees safe. We ultimately made the decision to reduce the headcount in our Packhouses because we fundamentally believe that by creating more physical distance between employees, we will significantly reduce any rapid potential spread of the virus. And, even though our employees will now work less time, they will still receive a wage and with the help of the Unemployment Insurance Fund we will help them claim for the short-time worked.”

Jacobs says that Two-a-Day is also donating a few tons of apples on a weekly basis during the lockdown period and working with the local municipality to try and alleviate some of the adverse effects of Covid-19 on the community.

“We have implemented many more initiatives but these are some of the stand-out ones which have been positively received by our employees and the community. As a business that is heavily reliant on our employees, we are grateful to all who are helping us, and the country, get through this very difficult time. It is in crisis times such as these when Two-a-Day asks of ourselves that we relook our social and corporate initiatives. We recognise that we have a much larger role to play in  the communities in which we operate.” Jacobs ends.

Christo Janse Van Rensburg, Human Resources Manager at Ceres Fruit Growers, one of the largest employers in the region, and the other shareholder of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, says they too have met all government regulations and more.

“We have implemented all the requirements as stipulated in the regulations in terms of sanitising and distancing in packhouses,. In addition at Ceres Fruit Growers we have negotiated with our providers of funeral, risk and responsible short-term loan providers, to allow for a payment holiday on pay roll for workers for the month of April 2020. We will reassess after April. Our workers are also getting paid a day earlier per week to alleviate the pressure on Fridays in town and we have organised additional transport for all workers on day and night shifts to ensure safety in terms of numbers in the busses and taxis”, he says adding: “CFG is involved with churches, NGO’s and other packhouses in the region compiling hampers for homes for the aged. Our MD, Francois Malan has initiated a donation to all workers of fruit on a weekly basis, but in addition to also donate extra bags of fruit for workers’ neighbours who are currently not working. We are calling it ‘Back a Neighbour/ Buddy initiative.’’

Janse van Rensburg says that due to the huge shortage of available masks, he could only recently  order  4000 washable face masks, two for each of the team and recently distributed. 

“In the instances where not all our staff are required on certain packing lines, we have implemented a rotational roster to try and ensure that the maximum number of workers get a chance to earn an income while at the same time maintaining social distancing. If contracts have to be terminated because of a significant drop in orders as a result of Covid-19 we will apply to UIF on behalf of workers and provide other safety nets in line with government’s support of the industry. And, finally, we have an isolation room cordoned off adjacent to our on-site clinic with all emergency protocols in place.” 

Tru-Cape Managing Director, Roelf Pienaar, says that everyone is doing the very best they can to ensure that we stay well, pick and store the fruit that is currently on the trees and meet our existing commitments to supply supermarkets in South Africa and in 104 countries abroad. “It is business unusual now but everyone at Tru-Cape is working towards the same goal. We applaud the leadership shown by our shareholders Ceres Fruit Growers and Two-a-Day in this regard.” Pienaar ends.

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Farmers Review Africa
Farmers Review Africa
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