Political upheaval may compromise 1,178 jobs at CDC

The pangs of the simmering crisis pitting Government against aggrieved Southern Cameroonians has eaten deep into the flesh of the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, to the point that its management has confessed to the possibility of laying off no fewer than 1,718 workers in the nearest future in the event that the current circumstance persists.
The corporation’s management was speaking recently in Limbe while awarding labour medals to some 1,000 meritorious workers of the corporation in the presence of the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Gregoire Owona.
“Dialogue should be considered an important tool in resolving the socio-political crisis in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon because the CDC has already suffered and continues to suffer countless casualties,” Staff representative, Hon. Efite Andrew stated.
He said as a result of the crisis, CDC has lost two staff; Puh Emelda of the Manyu Project who died from a stray bullet in Mamfe and Ewodu Ndjobo of the Tombel Rubber Estate, who was brutally killed by unidentified gunmen. Efite, continued that CDC in the recent past has suffered untold losses as a result of an attack on the payment crew including the Illoani Estate Manager and the Industrial Unit Manager, leading to a loss of close to FCFA 30,000,000 cash. As he explained, “two corporation vehicles (a pick-up and an ambulance carrying drugs for workers) and a CDC caterpillar were burnt down to ashes at Mondongo leading to a material loss worth FCFA 500,000 000. Also, Illoani Mill pick-up was seized and burnt by unidentified men at Bomana.”
According to the corporation staff representative, there have been persistent attacks on the following Estates: Illoani Palm Estate, Boa Palms Project, Illoani Mill, Mbonge Rubber Estate and Tombel Rubber Estate. He said the Manager of Illoani Palm Estate is currently under house arrest as gunmen have sent messages that they don’t want to see him out of his house else, he will be murdered.
“Should this socio-political crisis continue, it is evident that CDC may cease operation in the above mentioned areas, and may suspend contracts of all the workers concerned, viz; 406 workers of Boa Project, 354 of Illoani Estate, 92 workers of Illoani Mill, 390 of Mbonge Rubber Estate and 476 workers of Tombel Rubber Estate, making a total of 1,718 workers who risk losing their jobs,” Efite explained.
He said this does not only put the economic position of CDC at stake but, the unanswered question is what will happen to these workers and their dependents should these Estates close down?
On behalf of the entire staff, Efite appealed to the Government to call for an inclusive dialogue so that together, a solution could be reached and CDC safeguarded.
To the General Manager, Franklin Ngoni Njie, the environment in which they operate is increasingly becoming challenging and their operations are being adversely affected by the socio-political crisis prevailing in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. He said this has not only resulted to destruction of property, slowdown of their production related operations in certain areas of the corporation but, also to loss of human lives.
“The crisis is posing a real threat to our business. While we thank the administrative authorities for the support we have been receiving to be able to manage through this far, we want to reiterate that the corporation is seriously threatened,” Njie lamented.
Promising workers management’s commitment to maintain healthy social dialogue in the corporation, the GM reminded them that the ceremony was in fulfillment of a legal, moral and social duty. He said it was also an opportunity for the corporation to honour and motivate its labour force, especially as CDC last witnessed such a ceremony some 14 years ago.
After listening to the worries of CDC, Minister Owona of Labour and Social Security promised them that Government under the leadership of President Paul Biya, is aware of the social tensions and unrest in the Northwest and Southwest Regions and is leaving nothing to chance in order to restore peace and order in this part of the country. He assured, “Through social dialogue, the Government will not relent until a serene and peaceful social climate is restored.”
Owona appreciated the entire staff and General Manager of the CDC for the performance of the enterprise and its permanent contribution to promoting development and economic growth in the country. He said the excellent and serene social climate in CDC is proof of the existence of constant social dialogue between workers and management of the enterprise.
“The glaring results of CDC could not be attained without the assiduity, devotedness, loyalty, respect of hierarchy, patriotism, and sense of responsibility and the spirit of enterprise of these workers. Better days lie ahead for social cohesion at the CDC,” the Minister assured.
In all, 504 recipients and a total of 1,298 medals were awarded; 320 of them in gold, 480 in silver gilt and 498 in bronze. While some of the recipients are still in active service, others have retired and a few have succumbed to death.
By Nester Asonganyi

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