300 lose jobs at 56 year old Kaduna textile coy
United Textile Limited (UNTL), the only textile company standing in Kaduna State appears to be on shaky ground with the disengagement of about 300 workers, which constitute 30 per cent of its staff strength.
Dozens of textile factories have closed shop in Kaduna because of many factors, including an unfriendly environment occasioned by the dearth of equipment and cost of production.
News gathered state that UNTL, the only surviving company in the sector was founded in 1964. It is composed of subsidiaries including Supertext, Funtua Textile, Zamfara Textile, Unitext and Nichem Text.
The company shut down operation in 2007 but re-opened in 2010, and has since then been operating on shaky ground.
In March 2020, UNTL once again shutdown activities after a state-wide lockdown was imposed by the Kaduna State Government to curtail the spread of COVID-19 infection in the state.
Correspondents gathered that pressure from the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) compelled the company to recall its workers in the last few weeks, which sources said led to a “restructuring” process.
On a visit to the company in Kakuri, Kaduna South Local Government Area of the state, workers told our correspondents that almost half of the company’s staff strength had been laid off in what the company called “restructuring.”
One of the staff said all those affected have been invited to collect their entitlements adding that the company was facing several challenges ranging from lack of raw materials to product imitations and poor patronage.
“It (retrenchment) is as a result of the general economic problem,” he said.
“This is the only surviving textile company in Kaduna and we cannot even get raw materials because the farmers are complaining that bandits won’t allow them to go to their farms.
“Some of the workers have been here for a while and they have been laid off. To pay workers has become difficult because there is no work to do and there are no raw materials to work with,” he said.
Another worker said the development will have a negative multiplier effect.
“The development will affect more than 1000 people because all the workers have dependants including wives, children and parents.
“I am sure many will find it difficult to survive because who do you think will give them a job? I hope the federal and Kaduna State Governments would do something to salvage the situation,” he said.
Our correspondents gathered that a list of workers laid off by the management of the company was pasted on the company’s notice board with over 200 names on the list but sources said some names have not been pasted.
We’re only downsizing
However, a senior member of the management team of the company told Daily Trust that the news circulating on social media that the company had shut down its operations permanently was false but confirmed that UNTL was downsizing.
The company’s General Manager, Sen. Walid Jibrin, who was ill at the time of the visit, however, said that staff were being paid their entitlements. Jibrin, who is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said as soon as he recuperates, he would be able to speak with journalists on the issue.
The factory, which prides itself as the largest textile factory in West Africa, had on its payroll about 10,000 workers before it suspended production in 2007 as a result of unfavourable government policies.
Three years later, it reopened after accessing a loan facility from the federal government. It was a celebration galore on December 3, 2010, when the factory was reopened with the then Vice President Namadi Sambo in attendance.
The federal government had put in place N100 billion Cotton, Textile and Garment Development Fund through a bond issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO) in 2010.
Before the closure, the factory ran three shifts: morning, afternoon and night, as well as a permanent day shift for the administrative staff, making the textile communities busy even at night. The closure of many factories around the location turned the Kaduna textile cluster, which hitherto used to be the most bubbling area in Kaduna city, into the shadow of its former self.
Daily Trust reports that since it reopened in 2010, the company has been operating at low capacity when compared to the heyday of the textile industry in the country.