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179 lose jobs at tobacco processor

Ken Kandodo

By Deogratias Mmana:

Kanengo Tobacco Processors Limited (KTPL) is in the process of retrenching 179 permanent staff following the closure of its tobacco processing facility in Lilongwe on March 31 this year.

The government has, meanwhile, expressed concern over the development.

In a statement, dated March 24 2021, KTPL directors indicate that the closure has been prompted by various factors, including difficult financial times within and outside Malawi due to the reduction in national crop size.

The company further says reduced international demand for Malawi air-cured burley and high competition for tobacco processing in Malawi because of high installed capacity and international sanctions on Malawian tobacco have also prompted the closure.

“These factors, beyond our control, have forced the closure of the KTPL factory. Unfortunately, this leads to the loss of work for some of the 179 permanent workers in KPTL,” the statement reads.

The company started its operations in September 2000 after it opened a state-of-the-art processing facility, which at its peak processed 32 million kilogrammes of tobacco.

KPTL Human Resources and Administrative Manager Yacinta Chikapa asked employees to verify their retrenchment packages by Wednesday, March 24 2021.

The process started on March 22 and ended on March 24 2021.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Ken Kandodo has described the closure and loss of jobs as regrettable.

“We are aware, however, that most tobacco buying companies have been under heavy pressure, in terms of sales volumes, particularly in recent years.

“Firstly, the anti-smoking lobby led by the World Health Organisation has pushed down demand for tobacco in most developed countries, where most of our customers come from,” Kandodo said.

Kandodo also said child labour and tenancy labour had acted negatively against Malawi, although child labour is not used on tobacco estates in the country.

“My ministry is working on policies and new laws to eliminate child labour as well as tenancy in Malawi,” he said.

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