Portland Holdings Limited on verge of shutdown

Portland Holdings Limited on verge of shutdown
Published: 22 October 2007

Portland Holdings Limited (PHL), a subsidiary of  Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC), could shut down due to lack of raw materials. The company does not also have the foreign currency to import spares for some of its plant equipment.  
 
The situation at PHL’s worsened in June after government ordered businesses to reduce prices.  
 
Government pegged the price of a bag of cement at $170 000 at a time when the actual price was around $1,5 million.  
 
Investigations by businessdigest revealed that the company was battling with lack of clinker, an important raw material used in the production of cement.  
 
Scores of workers quit last month after the company slashed their wages to reduce production costs.  
 
The company cut the wages from between $6 million and $7 million to between $3 million and $4 million.  
 
Colleen Bawn Mine, the company’s main supplier of clinker, is also facing serious viability problems.  
 
The mine is understood to be exporting the little clinker it is producing at the moment.  
 
No comment could be obtained from the PHL managing director Trevor Bernard. His secretary said he was too busy to attend to journalists.  
 
"I am sorry Mr Bernard is in a meeting and he doesn’t have time to attend to journalists on that issue," said the secretary before hanging up.  
 
PHL workers committee chairman, Saviors Mbedzi, confirmed that more than a hundred skilled workers quit last month over low salaries. He said most of the workers had been absorbed by construction companies in South Africa which is preparing for the 2010 World Cup. He said production at the company has been reduced drastically.  
 
"After the salary cuts and with no sign that the situation might improve, scores of workers left workers for South Africa to joined several construction companies that are building stadiums and other facilities in preparation for the 2010 World Cup," Mbedzi said.