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Covid lessons can be applied to on-going partnerships

Starting a new year without first taking the lessons from the previous year onboard is probably not the most constructive way to move forward.

One of the largest employers in the Ceres area of South Africa’s Western Cape was also among the first businesses to deal with positive Covid-19 cases.

“It was a significant learning curve,” says Ceres Fruit Growers’ Managing Director, Francois Malan, “But the lessons learned continue to serve us and our people.” Ceres Fruit Growers is, together with Two-a-Day in Grabouw, the owner of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, South Africa’s largest exporter of apples and pears.

According to Malan, one of the main learnings was the value of strong partnerships with local government, law enforcement, civil organisations and the Departments of Health and Labour. 

“We have an open-door policy and our point of departure is always to work together rather than in opposition. And, the good news for us is that with the exception of very few people who would rather push a political agenda than act in the interests of the people they represent, most people here want to work well with us too,” he says.

“Our HR department has worked very closely with the Department of Labour and has taken real strides in improving efficiencies such as helping our seasonal workers register for UIF by inviting the Department to come to our offices to register people rather than them having to queue outside the department. Another really positive relationship which has grown by working with people being off work as a result of Covid is the way we have helped to register our staff members so they can easily claim for TERS and other payments offered.

“Even from a Covid vaccination point of view we have helped staff register for the vaccination and have provided daily transport and time off from work for them to be vaccinated. We encourage all our staff to be vaccinated as the vaccination is the only proven way to reduce the risks of being seriously ill and spreading this pandemic. We have lost some employees and many employees have lost loved ones and friends,” he ends.

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