By John Ighodaro
CALABARâ€”Producers ofÂ Unicem Portland Cement, the United Cement Company of Nigeria Limited, are set to retrench 90 of its staff, as the company mothballs its old grinding station facility in Calabar by July 31 and concentrate on its new 2.5m tons per annum green field plant at Mfamosing, also in Cross River State.
AÂ statement issued by the Director of the Corporate Affairs Department of the company, Mr. Ayi Ita Ayi, noted: â€œNecessitated by the high cost of cement production at the Calabar grinding station, the United Cement Company of Nigeria Ltd.
(Unicem) will cease its cement grinding operations at the Calabar grinding station facility and mothball the facility, effective July 31, 2009.Â â€œAll of the companiesâ€™ cement producing operations will be transferred to the new 2.5million tons per annum cement producing plant at Mfamosing.
The new line at Mfamosing currently operates at a much lower operating cost and has excess grinding capacity in addition to producing cement from materials mined at site.â€
Mr. Ayi, however, noted that the staff to be retrenched would not be released without adequate plans to cushion their retrenchment, saying Unicem was engaging the services of technical consultants to equip ex-employees who would like to dabble in self-employment as they would need to acquire the necessary entrepreneurial skills to forge ahead.
According to him, â€œthe intention of management is to assist in the setting up of viable ventures that can partner with UniCem and provide support services to the company, for example, in the areas of maintenance, cleaning and transport services.
â€œThe technical consultant will help such ex-employees with the process of registering businesses, link them up to financial institutions as necessary and provide advice on how best to manage the lump sum amount from the separation package.â€
Mr. Ayi also noted that the technical consultant would in addition act as an outplacement agency for employees who intend to continue paid employment elsewhere.