SM Jaleel Factory

Soft drink manufacturer SM Jaleel has reduced the salaries and hours of work of some employees at its plant at the Otaheite Industrial Estate in South Oropouche as it makes adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to slashing the base salaries of the affected workers, they work hours have been reduced from eight to seven Mondays to Fridays and five hours on Saturdays.

According to a memo dated April 16 and signed by the company’s Vice President Human Resources Zaid Cassim, the measures will be in place for the period April to July 2020, after which there will be a review.

Cassim, who thanked the affected workers for their “understanding, support and agreement” to the temporary adjustments, added: “We are confident that by putting God first and by being one another’s keeper, we will come out of this global crisis stronger than ever.”

Asked for comment on the matter yesterday, SM Jaleel instead sent out a press release saying its regional exports had been severely impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in islands which are dependent on cruise ship tourism.

As a result, the company said there have been consultations on salary reductions and lay-off of staff in its export logistics and export manufacturing departments.

Company officials did not say how many workers have been affected by the cuts but said since the crisis, new departments had been created to allow customers to access products from the safety of their homes.

SM Jaleel also highlighted health and wellness measures at all their facilities, including temperature testing, hand washing, distribution of masks and working from home. The company said it has also provided a special travel allowance to frontline workers doing sales, deliveries and merchandising.

The largest manufacturer of non-alcoholic drinks in the English-speaking Caribbean, SM Jaleel’s products are found in more half a million wholesale and retail stores worldwide, including Walmart and other international retailers. The company has more than 2,000 employees on five continents.