But staff representatives oppose, write to Biya to salvage company
BY ATIA TILARIOUS AZOHNWI
The Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) is contemplating laying off thousands of workers as the socio-political unrest in the North West and South West Regions deepens.
During a meeting, Friday, June 8, 2018 at the Senior Service (SS) Club Bota chaired by CDC General Manager, Franklin Njie, staff representatives were told that the corporation plans to lay-off workers in estates badly affected by the civil unrest.
Going by a report presented on May 8, 2018 during a meeting attended by 17 persons including CDC management staff, labour administrators and trade union leaders, “the crisis is taking a toll on the socio-economic situation of workers as several establishments are no longer in operation given that workers, out of fear and threats on their lives no longer go to work”.
In the document forwarded to government, attendees of the May 8 meeting agreed that many CDC camps have been deserted by the workers.
The social partners of the CDC meeting in the May 8, 2018 Extra-Ordinary Joint Industrial Council were mindful of the existence of about twenty thousand contracts of employment and the related monthly wage bill of about FCFA 2.5 billion.
“Considering the fact that production activities have ceased in many of the estates and industrial units; taking into account the likely deterioration of the existing socio-economic situation;” the CDC social partners recommended that “the government should take hasty measures to redress this situation so that social peace and economic revival be restored in CDC establishments.”
Gabriel Mbene Vefonge, President of the Divisional Syndicate of Agricultural Workers in Fako, DISAWOFA, who attended both meetings (on May 8 and June 8, 2018) told The SUN that the move to lay off thousands of workers in about nine CDC estates is in line with a ministerial order that spells out how workers who are victims of a prolonged force majeure can be indemnified and laid off.
“If such a force majeure goes for up to six months, then the contract will have to be terminated. In the course of the discussions and debates, the workers felt that it was an unhealthy situation – one which is sensitive and has to do with almost the whole of CDC. This may throw CDC in total confusion, which means that the social climate in the North West and South West Regions is going to aggravate if CDC workers are thrown into the streets,” Mbene said by telephone.
He said the General Manager gave a rundown which shows that nine estates were already affected by the crisis as at June 7, 2018. They include Mondoni Estate, Meanja Estate, Malende Estate, Moungo Palms Estate, Mokonje Estate, Tombel Estate, Mbonge Estate, the Boa Palms Project, Illoani Estate and the Illoani Oil Mill.
Mbene estimates that “we may be talking about laying-off between 4,000 and 5,000 workers. The danger is that the situation may soon affect all the workers given that the crisis is growing like magma, moving from one estate to another.”
The staff representatives told management that they are not comfortable that the law be applied as it is, given that the situation is very sensitive and the outcome may not be too good for government to manage.
The SUN learnt that the staff representatives have addressed a memo to the Head of State, President Paul Biya, calling on him to take urgent measures to rescue the situation.
They want the state to take its responsibility as owner of 100 percent shares of the corporation, which responsibility includes and is not limited to providing money for the payment of salaries and seeking measures to resolve the current crisis.
The Communications and Public Relations Manager of the CDC, Manyanye Ikome was not immediately available to react, despite calls placed to his line.
First published in The SUN Newspaper No. 0494 of Monday, June 11, 2018