Boardwalk decision on jobs soon
Gambling board to decide on licence change application which could lead to 250 staff cuts
More than 200 workers from the once-thriving Port Elizabeth Boardwalk casino will know in August whether or not they will keep their jobs.
This comes after the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board received an application late in 2017 from co-owners Emfuleni Resorts to alter their Boardwalk licence.
If the application is approved, the job cuts would see the Sun Boardwalk Casino and Hotel go from 652 permanent workers to 400 full and parttime employees.
The possible retrenchments are due to dwindling revenue and the impact of mushrooming bingo terminals on the city’s gambling industry, according to October Sun International financial results.
Board spokesperson Pumeza George said Emfuleni Resorts had submitted an application to amend certain provisions of the licence in November.
“The board is engaging with the licensee and will consider the application at its next meeting cycle in August.”
An extensive public participation process started earlier this year with an investigation by the board and public participation meetings.
Sun International spokesperson Zoleka Skweyiya said the application was aimed at aligning the business with lower revenues.
“This is a consequence of the proliferation of electronic bingo terminals in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“The proposed changes include a reduction in staff at the Boardwalk Casino and its hotel operations.”
She said that after the decision from the board the company would decide on the best way forward.
“However, while the proposed changes are intended to address the need to increase profitability and reduce operating costs, they will not affect the property’s premium luxury hotel offering.”
Last week, some employees said the drop in the number of visitors over the past few years had been highly visible, making their employer’s bid to reduce staff numbers understandable, but nonetheless concerning.
In the hotel area – where the Boardwalk does brisk business in its conferencing facilities – a worker said the complex used a labour company to employ significant numbers of temporary workers.
“I have been a casual worker here for the past three years. I am studying and I am a casual, so I don’t stand to lose much if they retrench workers here.
“The hotel uses lots and lots of casual workers,” she said.
Another woman in the same area said: “We have children we have to feed and send to school. We are worried.”
Waiters in the casino areas also expressed concern.“I work both day and night shifts here. I like this job, and I need it to look after my family and my kids,” one said.
Another waiter said while he hoped to hold on to his job, he would take a decision based on whether he was selected for retrenchment, and then on what package he was offered.
A barman said while he was worried about the possibility of retrenchments, he felt he was in a better position than other employees.
“We are told that if they retrench, it will be a last-in-firstout thing. I have been here for a number of years, so I am not that worried ... I will feel sorry for anyone who has to go.”
SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union regional leaders discussed the issue in a meeting on Friday.
The union’s Boardwalk shop steward, Loyiso Thomas, said: “We will not be commenting on this matter until we have heard back on what the gambling board has decided.”