Laid-off Agro Industries workers to be paid all dues


The Minister for Employment and Human Resource Development Idith Alexander made this announcement in the National Assembly yesterday in answer to an urgent question by elected member for Pointe Larue Jennifer Vel.

Ms Vel wanted to know the government’s approach towards the lay-off of the workers employed by the Agro Industries Co. Ltd which produced long life milk and yoghurt under local brand name ‘NUTRI’, juice under local brand name ‘SUNKISS’D’, Liquifruit under license from Ceres and packed in Tetra pack.

According to Minister Alexander, her ministry was informed by the company through a letter dated September 13, 2012 that it was going to carry out a restructuring process and would need to reduce its workforce by more than 50%.

Minister Alexander informed the Assembly that in a letter dated September 20, 2012 it requested that the company, in line with the Employment Act, submits to the employment ministry details and circumstances surrounding the reasons for termination of employment, the number of workers concerned, their names, ages, occupations, salaries, criteria used to select workers for termination among other information and to start the necessary procedures to pay them their dues and compensation.

The company supplied the ministry with all the requested information on September 25, 2012, Ms Alexander stated.

She said that as per the law, her ministry organised a meeting with the workers and a representative of the company on October 9, 2012 and it was during the meeting that the ministry was informed that the company was closing down completely and a total of 59 workers will be affected.

She noted that it has been approved for all the workers to be paid all their benefits as follows:
• 15 days salary for the month of October
• One month salary as notice
• Compensation for length of service
• Accumulated leave
• Maternity leave for two workers.

Minister Alexander also informed the Assembly that during another meeting with the workers on Monday October 15, 2010, they approved and confirmed their satisfaction with the above-mentioned propositions.

Meanwhile, a representative of the employment department and representatives of private employment agencies are meeting individually with the workers to assess their needs and see how best to help those who want to be placed in employment find a new job as soon as possible.

Minister Alexander also informed the Assembly that the ministry is following the situation closely to ensure that the workers are paid their dues and compensation within the time specified as per the law.

With regard to the site itself and its equipment, Minister Alexander said the government is yet to make a decision.

Speaking to Nation yesterday afternoon, the assistant manager of Agro Industries Co. Ltd, V. Ragupathy, said the company had ceased production since the beginning of September and had informed the government of its decision and the constraints it was facing but its sales unit has remained in operation to continue selling products still in stock.

Mr Ragupathy also explained that among the reasons for the closure are the continued increasing costs of local productions and the high competition from cheaper imported products.

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