MD asks Portland staff to resume duty

January 20, 2012
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Portland Cement Company MD Kephar Tande
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) workers have been asked to resume their duties on Saturday, a call that will hopefully bring to an end a costly eight day-long dispute that has led to a loss of approximately Sh400 million.

Speaking after holding a day-long meeting with various stakeholders, Managing Director Kephar Tande said none of the workers will be victimised when they report back to work.

“We are calling on all our workers to report back to work at the normal working hours and we want to assure them that none of them will be victimised so they should just come,” Tande appealed.

His call comes a day after the High Court ordered the factory, which was shut down on Friday last week due to disagreements between the stakeholders, to resume operations in order to safeguard the interests of all shareholders.

High Court Judge Mohammed Warsame on Thursday set the stage of the re-opening of the Athi-River based plant when he ordered the board of directors and the government through the Ministry of Industrialisation to agree on the logistics to do so.

“I direct that you hold a board meeting at the PS’s (Industrialisation Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho’s) office and then proceed to Athi River and re-open the factory,” Judge Warsame had stressed in his Thursday ruling.

Although the row started off as a disagreement between the board and the government over the control of the multi-billion plant, it quickly sucked in other players including the workers and politicians and even local communities.

The cement manufacturer’ employees have been adamant that they will only go back to work if a new board is constituted and a new MD is appointed.

But at a brief press conference, Tande declared he was back to work but declined to say what action will be taken against those who do not heed his call to go back to work.

“I have resumed my job and they (workers) will soon see that the company is fully operational and therefore they should not worry,” he assured.

Tande who was not flanked by any of the board members adopted a reconciliatory tone in a bid to hopefully get through to some of the 1,300 workers who have been opposed to his return as the MD alleging that he was corrupt.

With the factory resuming its operations of producing about 3,500 tonnes of cement per day, the opposing sides will still be expected to come to the negotiating table and iron out their differences.

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