Government thanks IOT staff for supporting economy-• As company salutes long-serving workers


Workers who have clocked 25 years with GM Madnack and ministers Alexander and Sinon

The appreciation was voiced on behalf of all the government and all Seychellois by the
Minister for Natural Resources and Industry Peter Sinon during a special reception hosted by the IOT at Coral Strand hotel on Saturday September 29 when 195 of the factory’s workers got long service awards.

The colourful function was attended by among others the Labour and Human Resources Development Minister Idith Alexander. Also invited were the principal secretary for investment and natural resources Michael Nalletamby and the director for employment services Ivans Nolin.

“I would like to say on behalf of every member of the Seychelles population, ‘thank you’ for sticking to your jobs,” he told the workers, whom he said have worked legitimately, diligently and hard for many years.

“Fisheries is the second most important pillar of our economy which you support by adding value to the tuna that is found in our vast economic zone.

“You work on the tuna that we export and earn foreign exchange.”

He said there are many other Seychellois who earn their living from the fact that the workers keep the factory running, for example those who supply snacks to the IOT.

“Without you buying their samoosas, boiled eggs, juice and lemonade they would not have a job,” he said.

The minister also thanked Seychellois staff for receiving their colleagues from abroad and making them feel at home, and the workers from overseas for adopting to climate and other conditions on Mahe.

Mr Sinon referred to the important issues raised by IOT’s general manager Joram Madnack in his speech.

Mr Madnack noted that 168 were awarded for their 10 years’ service, seven for being with the IOT for 20 years and “for the first time in our history a group is celebrating 25 years with the IOT. This group consists of 20 employees”.

Giving statistics, Mr Madnack said of the 195 employees, 160 – or 82% – are ladies and 35 are men.

“Of the 168 awardees who have worked for 10 years, 139 are expatriates and 29 are local employees.

“All the seven 20-year awardees and all the 20 with 25 years of service are Seychellois.

“Therefore, of the 2,324 employees we have at the IOT, 1,050  or 45% have worked more than five years and 650 or 28% have been with the IOT for more than 10 years.

“These statistics show again the commitment of our workers to the IOT,” he said.

“Dear awardees, I know you are certainly reminding yourselves of the very first day you joined this company and along the way to reach here, the numerous sacrifices in your personal lives, difficulties you may have encountered in your day to day work at the IOT with your colleagues or supervisors.

“I know it has not always been easy. But you are still here!  This means there have also been good moments!

“Every morning you could have said “annou kontinyen dormi” but you what you choose is “annou leve pour al debrouye”.

“Being with the IOT for 10 years, 20 years and more importantly 25 years is not by coincidence or by accident. It’s a clear choice you have made to be committed and dedicated to the IOT.  Your sense of belonging to the company is exemplary.

“On behalf of the IOT management I would like to say a big Thank You and hope other staff members, especially the younger generation, see in you a role model in terms of dedication and commitment.

“I also thank your families for their assistance to make this journey possible and to help you to deliver your best at work.
“You’re the biggest asset of this company and as such I’ll make sure that this asset is maintained as best as possible.
“We need you to be happy in your work environment,” said Mr Madnack, noting the company has installed air conditioning in part of the fish cleaning area so now it is more comfortable.
“We’ve also installed new air extraction units in the label and case area and we’ll continue to invest.

“We continue to maintain our commitment to the compensation agreed in 2006,” he said, adding the company is working hard to introduce an incentive scheme in the next few months to safeguard current jobs and will start this scheme first with the fish cleaners.

“We are investing a significant amount of funds to train our staff in all areas of the business. We sent in August a group of 15 of our employees to Thailand to Thai Union Foods Limited, one of the biggest tuna factories in the world to improve on our fish cleaning technique for better recoveries,” said Mr Madnack. 

“We’ve been and will continue to initiate all the necessary steps to make the work environment comfortable and safer.”

Mr Madnack however listed a number of challenges, saying fish supply shortage triggering highest ever prices of raw materials, partly because of piracy and climatic conditions but also due to an increase in demand for the fish transshipped and unloaded in Seychelles.

“Due to lack of fish we had to close the factory in June for nine days and one day in September.

For the last few weeks we have been running at 60% of our capacity,” he said, noting the company is working closely in this respect with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Industry and the Seychelles Fishing Authority to help in securing the necessary fish to keep the local cannery running.

“We are also building a cold storage facility of 10,000 metric tonnes which will mitigate the fish shortage issues during the difficult season,” he said, citing absenteeism and difficulty to recruit locally as other challenges.

“Our costs – mainly utilities and labour – are significantly higher that our competitors. The only way to survive the fierce competition is to ensure better efficiency and productivity in all our operations.”

He said the IOT represents 95% of Seychelles manufacturing exports and around 5% of the country’s gross domestic product.

“We’re one of the biggest foreign exchange contributors with an average conversion of 20 million euros to Seychelles rupees every year. 
“But more importantly, many lives depend on the existence and success of IOT. I’m confident that with a team like you and the support of local authorities we’ll rank IOT as a very good working place and set a benchmark for the best tuna cannery in the world,” he said, congratulating and thanking the awardees.

Multi – a musical group involving seven singers and musicians from various sections of the IOT –performed two of their own songs to entertain the guests.

To close the formalities, IOT’s production shift manager Joeland Valmont acknowledged the new fish handling initiatives currently being applied by the production team members.

“Part of our gift for this occasion is the new set of tools to help us further increase our fish recovery,” said Mr Valmont.