August 13, 2009 / 5:27 PM / in 8 years

Cameroon sugar workers kidnap boss, factory shuts

* Sacking of several employees sparks protest

* Police trying to track down manager and his kidnappers

YAOUNDE, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Cameroon’s third biggest employer, sugar maker SOSUCAM, shut down a factory after workers took a manager hostage on Thursday, a company official said.

Angry workers kidnapped the factory manager during a protest sparked by the sacking of several other employees from the firm, the biggest sugar maker in central Africa with 130,000 tonnes of products in the 2008/09 sugar season.

“This provided the opportunity for workers of the company who since last year have been complaining of low salaries and poor working conditions ... to vent their anger,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They were joined by neighbouring villagers who have been expressing disappointment that they were not adequately compensated for their land which the government leased to the company four years ago,” he said.

Thursday’s case is a rare example in Africa of so-called “bossnapping,” a form of protest against job cuts that has become particularly prevalent in France this year. Cameroon is a former French colony.

Police in Mbandjock, around 80 km northeast of the capital Yaounde, said they were trying to track down the factory manager and his kidnappers.

SOSUCAM is majority owned by French family-run food-processing firm SOMDIAA. (Reporting by Tansa Musa; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and James Jukwey)

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