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Yaoundé - 13 April 2024 -
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Cicam employees demand over $3 million in unpaid wages amid company's financial turmoil

Cicam employees demand over $3 million in unpaid wages amid company's financial turmoil
  • Comments   -   Thursday, 04 April 2024 10:36

(Business in Cameroon) - Employees of the Cameroon Industrial Cotton Company (Cicam) have once again voiced their dissatisfaction over unpaid salaries. They made it clear to the company’s top management with a protest on April 1, after that of March 14, less than a month ago.

"For more than a year, we have had no wages, bonuses, or social coverage, despite promises from the management," said a company staff representative, who wished to remain anonymous.

The breaking point, according to the representative, was the management's unfulfilled promise to "pay at least one month of back wages after the sale of fabrics on March 8, 2024." According to Cicam's staff delegates, the employees received an advance payment for one month's salary arrears on March 25. The group of about fifteen members claims that the total amount owed for the 13 months of back wages by the entire staff amounts to CFA1.82 billion.

They vow to keep up the pressure to have their demands met by May 1, Labor Day, threatening to strike on the same day if their issues remain unresolved. However, the staff representatives are open to dialog, having requested an "urgent meeting" with the company's management on April 3.

This new strike comes at a time when Cicam is on the brink of bankruptcy. Its Douala factory has been shut down since November 18, 2023, forcing the company to import 2.2 million linear meters of fabric from India for the March 8, 2024, celebration. Over the past decade, Cicam has been operating at a loss due to outdated industrial equipment and dwindling competitiveness. According to the 2022 report by the Technical Commission for the Rehabilitation of Public and Parapublic Sector Companies (CTR), Cicam has accumulated a total debt of CFA31 billion as of December 31, 2022, including a social debt of just over CFA4 billion.

To avoid dissolving the country's largest cotton processing company, which controls a mere 5% of the local textile market share, the CTR suggests reevaluating Cicam's land assets to rebuild its equity and improve its balance sheet. The state also recommends the financial and technical restructuring of the company, established in 1965. According to the Enterprise Upgrading Office (BMN), restructuring the public enterprise would require an investment between CFA30.7 billion and CFA48.2 billion.

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