(Business in Cameroon) - On June 11, 2021, Minister of Labour Grégoire Owona (photo) sent two letters to Alexandre Vilgrain, CEO of SOSUCAM, stating his recommendations for the resolution of the conflict between staff representatives and the management about the dismissal of 250 workers for “professional incompetence.”
In the first letter, the official explained that the “professional incompetence” motive that prompted the dismissal of the 250 workers was based on material facts like staff evaluation reports, team leaders’ reports, and outputs among other things.
“ To prevent eventual disputes and preserve the social climate, it is in the company’s interest to resort to negotiated departures,” the Labor Minister recommends.
In the second letter, the official reveals that on May 5, 2021, the secretary-general of the staff representatives sent him a letter reporting several problems including the weakened social dialogue at SOSUCAM as well as the lack of employment and career management policies for workers hired from the surrounding community. The staff representative also denounced the victimization of those workers when the need comes to reduce the workforce, as well as the noncompliance with the commitments taken for their well-being as a counterparty for the lands they willingly ceded.
So, “to prevent any problem likely to affect the social climate that is important for productivity as well as social and economic development in the company in particular and in Cameroon, in general, I have the honor to request your side of those accusations,” M. Owona wrote.
The dispute went public with SOSUCAM’s decision, on June 2021, to dismiss 250 of its 1.117 permanent staff (about a quarter of the permanent staff) for professional incompetence. For staff representatives, the decision taken by the management is an economic lay-off and in no way the dismissed staff could not be accused of professional incompetence.
Currently, the company is the leader of the Cameroonian sugar market with 70% of the market share. It is 74%-owned by French group SOMDIAA against 26% for the Cameroonian government. Created in 1965, the company now provides 8,000 direct and indirect jobs with yearly wage bills estimated at XAF14 billion.