The closing of the Arcelor–Mittal plant in Saldanha Bay, announced yesterday is a heavy blow to the men and women and their families who worked there.
At a time when jobs are at a premium, when the national economy is sluggish at best, such job losses are doubly tragic, with a ripple effect on the local economy.
There is some hope however in that the plant will not be dismantled but be left in care and maintenance waiting for better times.
And to its credit the company gave ample warning of a decision it was clearly reluctant to take but, unlike State monopolies such as Eskom, private companies such as Arcelor-Mittal have a duty to protect their shareholders by taking tough decisions before catastrophic debts build up.
Saldanha Bay’s proximity to Cape Town, its own deep water harbour and the sudden availability of skilled workers on the jobs market, could well see many re-employed.
Saldanha Bay is not isolated. Cape Town Entrepreneurs have already taken note that it is only a short flight away. Getting there and back in a day is now possible.
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry