Human capital

Leadership bench strength
40 858 people employed across six SADC countries (peak milling season)
Tongaat Hulett is the largest private sector employer in Zimbabwe and Mozambique
20 515 employees attended training during the year
Employee base transformation
Leadership capability and management development
Diversity and Transformation
Technical training in core functions

Tongaat Hulett’s human resource approach is aligned with and supportive of the company’s strategic objectives and operating plans. This approach is informed by external dynamics, such as socio-economic, regulatory, market and legislative factors, as well as internal operational priorities and resources requirements. The effectiveness of Tongaat Hulett’s human resources strategy is assessed on an on-going basis, with plans being implemented on a localised basis to ensure their relevance and impact within each specific operating context.

The business recognises the importance of providing a locally-relevant and competitive value proposition to attract, employ, retain and develop a diverse range of people who are able and motivated to contribute to the achievement of the business’s strategic goals, within the framework of the company-wide employee transformation programme.


The total workforce as at 31 March 2016 was 31 230 (2014/15: 34 363), which includes full-time employees, fixed-term contractors, seasonal and casual workers. In light of existing operational challenges, employee costs is optimised without negatively impacting on operational requirements.The breakdown of Tongaat Hulett’s employee base per country as at 31 March 2016 is as follows:

and casual
workers (Nonpermanent)
  Total* Peak Season Total1
South Africa 3 250 860 1 238 5 348 4 224
Mozambique 7 901 2 100 944 10 945 16 425
Zimbabwe 10 771 3 274 0 14 045 18 741
Swaziland 412 13 165 590 1 134
Botswana 105 9 0 114 117
Namibia 136 52 0 188 217
Total 22 575 6 308 2 347   31 230 40 858

1Employee total at the peak of the sugar milling season - October 2015

The total number of employees decreased by 10 percent compared to the previous year, with the largest reduction arising in the seasonal and casual workers category. Where required, the company will continue to focus on maximising the performance of its labour force to contain costs and improve productivity, while, where possible, preserving jobs and adequate skills supply.

Performance Management


A formalised performance management process is used across the company. It is aligned with business goals and results, and formal assessments occur against pre-determined key performance indicators for reward purposes. This formal process also provides for the identification of high performers and talent for on-going performance enhancement and retention, while also providing input on areas for employee training and development aligned with operational requirements.


Specialised skills

Tongaat Hulett’s operations require skills in agriculture, marketing (milling and refining), technical and engineering, marketing, sales, distribution and commercial skills. As many of these are specialist requirements for the sugar and starch agri-processing functions, key positions demand appropriately qualified and skilled, highly specialised and experienced people. Tongaat Hulett aims to maintain the required human capital capacity by improving the skills of current employees and attracting new resources from the external labour market, while building future capacity through various interventions. The company’s employees possess a range of skills, from highly skilled professionals to artisans and semi-skilled employees. The following table illustrates the spread of skills amongst professional and skilled employees across the company’s value chain.

(as at
31 March 2016)
Average age
(as at
31 March 2016)
(1 April 2015 -
31 March 2016)
(1 April 2015 -
31 March 2016)
University and College qualifications 1 312 42 54 73
Artisans 721 38 47 21
Total 2 033 40 101 94

Other employees would be categorised as the semi-skilled and low-skilled. The company continues to focus on ensuring adequate skills supply.

Employee training, Development
and Skills Programmes

Employee development programmes are informed by the analysis of business needs and operating challenges compared against existing skills supply, levels of competence and performance, prioritising the core functions of the company. This includes consideration of compliance requirements in various functions. This resulted in the identification of five categories of skills improvement programmes included in the infographic below.

A total of 20 515 employees received training during the 2015/16 financial year (2014/15: 22 420), with a total training and development spend of some R42,5 million (2014/15: R37,6 million).

Training and development programmes are prioritised differently across the operations, based upon their differing operational focus areas and competence requirements. As such, the report is comprehensive for all operations whilst interventions may vary at individual sites. Detail about the programmes follow.

Safety and Compliance Training
and Certification Programmes

These programmes are considered high priority and have a continued focus on employee safety and welfare, and on operational goals. The safety and compliance training and certification programmes include Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) training and motorised equipment (such as forklift) training. New training interventions are implemented should additional key safety training requirements be identified.

Programme categories  Number of employees who attended training from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016  Percentage
of total
training programmes 
Safety, compliance training and certification 
SHE  11 164  44,1% 
Driver - forklift/crane/tractor  2 245  8,9% 
First aid  867  3,4% 
Advanced accident and emergency care  12  0,0% 
Food safety  1 256  5,0% 
Defensive driving  779  3,1% 
Occupational Health and Safety legislation  356  1,4% 
Alco meter use (Alcohol detecting machine)  68  0,3% 
Fire fighting  566  2,2% 
Total  17 313  68,3% 

Operations/core Functional
Skills Training Programmes

To achieve the company’s business goals at operational level, core competency interventions were rolled out, including agriculture, farm management, supervisory management, technical, production and manufacturing skills programmes. Training is extended to third parties who form part of the company’s agriculture supply chain; specifically private and small-scale farmers.

Programme categories  Number of employees who attended training from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016  Percentage
of total
Operations/core functional skills training 
Agricultural skills  4 735  18,7% 
Engineering and technology  247  1,0% 
Information technology  224  0,9% 
Admin/business skills/finance  252  1,0% 
Human resources  290  1,1% 
Small growers programme  90  0,4% 
Process training/Boiler attendant programme  90  0,4% 
Commercial and marketing  49  0,2% 
Manufacturing and production  118  0,5% 
Medical  319  1,3% 
Total  6 425  25,4% 

Leadership and Management
Development Programmes


Tongaat Hulett has a pool of competent and experienced leadership in all its operations, as well as skilled technical and operational management teams, which have ensured continued company success over time.

As market dynamics evolve and operational excellence is pursued, the continued development of leadership bench strength and management resources for the future is prioritised. The recently completed leadership and management development programmes were based on a business driven action learning methodology, balancing company skills needs and individual employee development needs.

The management development programme (MDP) which focussed on operational excellence, included 85 candidates from five countries. The 39 senior management development programme (SMDP) candidates were mostly from the executive and professional layer within the operational and management teams of five countries. The architectures of these programmes, while academically sound, were framed and driven by business needs identified by the company leadership, based on operational goals and strategic thrusts, with varying intended outcomes. At the completion of the project, participants were required to present Business Impact Projects (BIP) which provided possible solutions to actual business problems. The implementation of a number of these projects is planned for the coming year.

The SMDP’s BIP presentations, which were part of the final formal assessments, were also evaluated by the company’s senior executives which included Managing Directors, functional heads and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Programme categories  Number of employees who attended training from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016  Percentage
of total
Leadership and management development programmes 
Supervisory skills  224  1,0% 
Senior management development programme  39  0,2% 
Management development programme  85  0,3% 
Total  368  1,5% 

Long-term skills supply
(Graduate Development)

Long-term skills needs are identified by assessing the medium and long-term requirements of operational positions to cater for the future demands of the business. To address this, various graduate and entry-level development programmes are in place, mainly in agriculture, manufacturing and production, and commercial functions.

In partnership with youth employment acceleration organisations and higher education institutions, the company implemented a production trainee programme, graduate development programmes and formal agriculture skills training programmes. While these interventions are in response to the challenge of youth unemployment and access to education, skills training and job-placements, they are structured to align with the skills needs of the company in terms of capacity and competence requirements in the long term. These business-aligned processes enhances the absorption of candidates into entry-level opportunities in the company.

The long-term skills development and graduate programmes comprise a range of support mechanisms from school level to tertiary and workforce entry level. These include education bursaries, engineers-in-training (EIT), in-service training and learnerships. The programme targets females, individuals from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and local talent in line with the company’s transformation objectives in each of the countries in which it operates. These skills and graduate development programmes are structured to be accessible to individuals with varying levels of competency and work readiness and vary in focus and roll-out mechanisms in the different geographies.

Tongaat Hulett had 463 school-leavers and graduates in training at various levels of development during the 2015/16 financial year (2014/15: 452).

The table below provides a summary of the various programmes across all operations:

Graduate development programmes,
entry-level skills training (All operations) 
Programme  Number of
Engineers-in-training (EIT)  26 
Agronomist trainees 
Agriculture farm manager training 
Agriculturist-in-training  20 
Strategic sourcing trainees 
Production  21 
In-service trainees  34 
SHE trainees 
Apprenticeships (various trades)  99 
Graduate trainees  12 
Communications and marketing 
Student development programme 
General learners/trainees  46 
Workplace experience  46 
Bursaries  47 
Company assisted study aid schemes  90 
Total  436 
Percentage of total training programmes  1,8% 

Specific artisan training, as detailed below, is generally longer in duration than the graduate development programme. There was a significant decline in the number of artisans in training in 2015/16 since a large portion was trained the previous year.

Artisan training (All operations) 
Programme  Number of participants 
Artisans-in-training  125 
Artisan development  79 
Artisan aid development programme  42 
Total  246 
Percentage of total training programmes  1,8% 

The company has recognised that youth unemployment is a significant challenge in the countries in which Tongaat Hulett operates, where the largest portion of the population are young people. There exists, to some extent, a mismatch between employer and industry specific operational skills requirements and the skills possessed by the youth, neccessitating various interventions by the company.

Agricultural training and
development programme

A potential shortage of technical skills in agronomy, sugarcane agriculture and estate management skills for medium to longer term placement in the company resulted in the development of an internal agricultural training and development programme (ATDP). Initially launched in 2006, the programme was re-launched in 2015, aiming to address some of the shortfalls identified in the initial course, namely the independent implementation of the training in each country without using cross-operations capabilities to enrich the outcomes. The programme now focusses on providing trainees with exposure to best practice in various areas of sugarcane agriculture and estate management competencies across three of the countries in which Tongaat Hulett operates, namely Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.

Read more

Production trainee programme

As is the case with various elements of the agricultural and agri-processing operations, Tongaat Hulett starch requires specialised skills in production. As the only wet-miller in South Africa these skills are not readily available and tend to involve a steep learning curve for new employees, resulting in long training periods to reach full competence.

Read more


Increased focus is being placed on retaining and developing talent, improving the succession ‘bench strength’ and thus the long term sustainability of the company.


The company has established talent management processes which aim to attract, develop and retain high performing and talented employees based on operational and long-term skills requirements. Talent development and career advancement programmes provide employees with opportunities to learn, grow and advance their careers through various interventions. These vary from an employee study support scheme, structured internal training programmes, formal development programmes, as well as changes in and enhancements to roles and responsibilities, thereby improving their skills and possibilities for career advancement. Based on their level of development, some employees are put through interventions that support their personal growth, in areas other than purely core skills training. Examples include life skills and group specific interventions such as Communication skills training. Participation in these interventions were as follows:

Programme categories  Number of employees who attended training from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016  Percentage
of total
Talent development and career advancement 
Life skills 464  1,8% 
Other interventions, specific to groups/individuals  60  0,2% 
Total  524  2,0% 


Given the dynamics and challenging operating environment and the company’s strategic goals, the company focuses on long term and immediate term succession bench strength for leadership roles, senior management in the operations and critical skills across the company. Talent management and succession planning processes are in place to identify, develop and retain identified high potential and high calibre talent internally, while bringing in highly skilled talent from the external market to fill various key roles in the company.


Due to the priority placed on transforming the employee base, diversity and transformation goals are embedded in all human resource interventions rolled out across the company; with particular focus on three geographies namely South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Over time, Tongaat Hulett achieved a steady improvement as a result of focused interventions and processes, including attracting, retaining and advancing the careers of women throughout the business, localisation of skills in Mozambique, and the advancement of designated groups in South Africa.

Tongaat Hulett has a stable workforce with very few exits across all levels of the organisation, which affects the pace of transformation. New appointments can only be implemented as positions become available. Cognisance should be given to the various labour supply dynamics and challenges across the labour markets per country, labour market competitor activity, and the fact that the operations are primarily rural based, which impacts the size of the available market from which the company can access suitable candidates.

Compliance with legislation and
regulations and good citizenship

As a responsible corporate citizen, Tongaat Hulett acknowledges that significant value is unlocked through transformation and fair and equitable treatment of its employees. While the company complies with all relevant legislative and regulatory frameworks in all countries in which it operates, the transformation programmes are implemented based on the understanding of the value they bring, rather than merely to comply with legislation.

While significant transformational focus is on females, it has been established that certain agricultural and agri-processing positions have, in the past, not been viewed as attractive career choices to female candidates. The company has various youth focussed interventions to assist in changing perceptions and opening up these fields to increased female participation.

In Mozambique, employee retention trends over the past three years are encouraging with regards to localisation objectives, with the exit rate of local skilled employees being only half that of the average exit rate, which will positively impact on localisation rates over time, and redirection of dependence on many expatriate skills.

In South Africa, the operating companies, which incorporate sugar, starch and developments, comply with the various employment and transformation legislations relating to affirmative action, employment equity, skills development, B-BBEE and other relevant laws.

A strong employment equity culture has been fostered over many years and significant improvements achieved. In terms of the representation of designated groups, particular emphasis is placed on Africans, black women and persons with disabilities. As at 31 March 2016, 64,3 percent of management (2014/15: 63,3 percent) and 86,5 percent of skilled and supervisory positions are filled by black employees (2014/15: 85,4 percent). In terms of the professional skills profile, 77,5 percent of the university and college qualified employees are black (2014/15: 76,1 percent), with women constituting 48,1 percent (2014/15: 46,3 percent).

Women constitute 32,1 percent of the workforce across South African operations (2014/15: 32,8 percent). Women at senior management level increased from 18,6 percent to 18,9 percent, the proportion of black females in management increased from 22,3 percent to 24,2 percent, and black females in top management increased from 28,0 percent to 29,2 percent by March 2016.

In line with South African regulations, information for the South African operations for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 is detailed in the table below. Of the overall training costs of R42,5 million, a total of R28,7 million was spent on the South African operations, with the different categories of spend outlined below:

1 percent skills levy  R14,3 million 
Training spend as a percentage of leviable amount  2,0 percent 
Number of person days trained  3 715 
Number of person days available  972 096 
Percentage trained person days  0,38 percent 
Number of persons trained  1 631 
Expenditure on African, Coloured and Indian employees  R21,4 million 
Expenditure on African, Coloured and Indian women  R7,7 million 
Expenditure on employees with disabilities  R61 487 

Tongaat Hulett recognises and embraces the initiation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as they are aligned with the company’s aspirations, specifically in the areas of Goal Five: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, and Goal Eight: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.


Tongaat Hulett is cognisant of the socio-economic situations that impact on its employees in the various countries in which it operates. It continues to monitor these dynamics and how they affect employees through various internal and external means, including through organisations such as organised labour formations to which it’s employees belong.

The company endeavours to provide the maximum notice period possible to employees for any significant operational changes. In general, these are not included in collective agreements, except where they relate to changes that will result in short-time, although with multiple unions across six countries, these provisions can vary.

Freedom of association and
collective bargaining

Tongaat Hulett employees have the right to freedom of association. With 11 recognised unions in the six countries in which it operates, the company strives to maintain constructive, respectful relationships and a climate of agreement in union relations.

During the year in review, the Botswana union was changed from the Botswana Beverages and Allied Workers Union to the Cashiers Shop Assistant and Allied Workers Union. The formally recognised trade unions are provided in the table below.

Industrial action occurred in some of the company’s operations during the financial year, mainly arising from legal and structured engagement processes and within acceptable parameters. A total of 22 days and three hours of strikes were recorded, involving 7 127 employees at a cost of R150,6 million.

In Zimbabwe, the company was faced with a wage related industrial action in December 2015, with a total loss of 21 working days, following unsuccessful conciliation. The strike was concluded through an agreement brokered by the local Labour Ministry.

A one day strike, involving 93 employees, occurred in one of the starch operations and a three hour strike, involving 120 employees, affected one of the sugar operations.

Throughout the strike periods, the company tried to minimise negative operational impact on its various stakeholders as far as it was possible. The company continues to engage with and maintain sound relations with all recognised trade unions across all operations.

Country  Recognised union 
South Africa  Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)
National Sugar and Refining and Allied Industries Employees Union (NASARAIEU) 
Southern African Equity Workers Union (SAEWA)
United Association of South Africa (UASA)
Zimbabwe  Sugar Production and Milling Workers' Union of Zimbabwe (SPMWUZ)
Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers' Union (ZISMIWU)
Zimbabwe Hotel and Catering Workers' Union (ZHCWU)
Mozambique  Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Industria Do Açucar e Afins (SINTIA)
Swaziland  Swaziland Agriculture and Plant Workers Union (SAPWU) 
Botswana  Cashiers Shop Assistant and Allied Workers Union (CASAWU)
Namibia  Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU)

Disciplinary procedures

Just, equitable, non-discriminatory and consistent disciplinary codes and procedures form the foundation of corrective behaviour, in line with the relevant labour legislation. These are monitored and reviewed to ensure just and equitable treatment, while focussing on reducing case turn-around times. If any employee feels unjustly treated, they are entitled to exercise their rights in terms of their operation’s internal appeal procedure and the relevant legislation. Disciplinary codes and procedures have been implemented at local operations, after negotiations with the relevant trade unions.

Grievance procedures

The company’s grievance procedures are intended to create an environment that is conducive to good employee relations, by facilitating prompt and fair action by the company in response to legitimate complaints by employees. Internal communication aims to make employees aware of the grievance procedures, which are structured to ensure that grievances are resolved as near to their point of origin as possible, and within a reasonable timeframe.

The company implements interventions to address these grievance, such as through the enlistment of engineering and maintenance managers to address work environment grievances at plant level, or through management training should management practice grievances be received.


Tongaat Hulett is committed to providing a work environment that empowers people with disabilities to reach their potential and contribute productively to the work environment. In line with transformation objectives, the company aims to create an enabling work environment for persons with disabilities, understanding the value they add to the organisation. Aligned with legislated reporting requirements, there were 57 employees with disabilities as at 31 March 2016 (2014/15: 63) in South Africa. This constituted 1,1 percent of the total employee complement (2014/15: 1,1 percent).


Human rights

Within its sphere of influence, Tongaat Hulett works to protect basic human rights. The company is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which it commits, among others, to supporting freedom of association and collective bargaining at its locations, as well as preventing child and/or forced labour. Tongaat Hulett has incorporated human rights principles in its practices, and operates within a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which supports its commitment to a policy of fair dealing, honesty and integrity in the conduct of its business. All new employees are familiarised with and become signatories of this Code of Business Conduct and Ethics upon joining the company.

Child labour, forced
and compulsory labour

Tongaat Hulett does not make use of child labour and does not tolerate the inhumane treatment of employees, including any form of forced labour, physical punishment or other abuse.

Anti-bribery and corruption

Tongaat Hulett endeavours to uphold core business values and actively works to prevent corruption and bribery. The company has procedures in place that provide guidance on areas such as dealing with gifts and donations. Employees of Tongaat Hulett who do not comply with the company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics face disciplinary action, including dismissal.

Deloitte’s Tip-Offs anonymous provides an anonymous reporting channel for unethical behaviour in the workplace. This service has been rolled out across all six countries in which Tongaat Hulett operates with country specific telephone numbers to make it as user friendly and accessible as possible.