by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The closure of manufacturing firm Kajola-Kristada was a key agenda item in a meeting hosted by the newly appointed Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Economic Development and Investment, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and members of St Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry & Commerce.
At the meeting held on Tuesday, August 30, it was revealed that a total of 150 employees of Kajola-Kristada would receive severance pay when the company ceases operations on November 5. Some employees were severed in April and July 2022 and the remaining 52 employees will be severed within the coming months. Currently, there are 14 employees still employed.
Mr. Michael Davis, President of the St Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce said the impending closure of Kajola-Kristada, will significantly impact a large number of local families. He said that there is a need for policies to drive investment in manufacturing, that will mitigate the risk observed when companies make their transition to different locations for profitability and discounting other areas like job loss.
Under the former government, a decision was taken to have a transition team, made up of Members of the Trades and Labour Union, the Labour Commissioner, government bodies, non-governmental organisations and the Human Resource Manager for Kajola Kristada to “retrain and retool” employees who would be out of work and get them back into the workforce as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, Dr. Denzil Douglas said the new government is committed to finding solutions to address the closure of factories in the St. Kitts and Nevis and also to search internally for ways to develop the country’s manufacturing industry.
Douglas said, “Let me reiterate that the Government remains steadfast in its commitment to working with the Private Sector. We for example would wish to see the manufacturing sector become more agile and responsive in this rapidly changing and disruptive global environment. We believe that while there are challenges on the international stage, the market is replete with opportunities to strive for excellence and to attain new heights. We must also look inwardly to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient.”
WINN understands that the driving force behind Kajola Kristada’s impending closure is financial difficulties relating to shipping and other logistics. The company will be relocating to Mexico and the transition process has already begun. This includes training of new employees in Mexico.
Kajola Kristada is one of the largest manufacturing companies in the Federation which manufactures and exports computer components. The company was established in 1998, as a division of Production Products Company Broadband, Inc. After 24 years of operation, a decision was made to close the plant in St. Kitts and move to a place where raw materials are easily accessible.