By Tunde Osho
Workers in the food, beverage and tobacco sector are set to begin a nationwide strike at the stroke of midnight Monday over what the workers say is a “failure by employer’s body to review salary.”
According to the President of the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB), which is the umbrella organization for the workers, Mr. Quadri Olaleye and its General Secretary, Solomon Iji, said on Monday that they had signed a letter urging members in the multinational companies to embark on a nationwide strike to press home their demands.
On Thursday, the workers had stormed the premises of some of the multinational companies that are members of the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) including Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB), Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Seven-Up Bottling Company Plc (SBC), to protest perceived protracted delay in effecting a new welfare package by their employers.
The protesting workers vowed not to accept anything less than 20% salary increases from employers, insisting that the 14% proposal made by employers was a non-starter.
Some of the protesting workers could be seen carrying placards with various inscriptions that read: “FOBTOB say no to industrial inequality”, “Management greed and exploitation shall be resisted” and “Stop the proliferation of expatriate workers.”
Olaleye accused the employers of being insensitive to the plight of workers by delaying negotiation of a new collective agreement that would see an upward review of workers’ salaries and other benefits.
The FOBTOB President decried the discrepancy meted out to FOBTOB members by various companies such as overtime and transport allowance which was not going to all the senior staff.
“Our Association, as managers, are being cheated in spite of their input in the business in order to realize target. Our members are victimized through restructuring or downsizing,” he said.
He called on the employers to resolve the issue of employing unqualified expatriates who have flooded the industry and taking over jobs meant for Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has condemned the decision of the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE).
The Union President, Mr. Bobboi Kaigama, said in a statement that the 20% increase before the National Joint Negotiating Council as proposed by FOBTOB was reasonable. He urged the AFBTE to review their stand as attempt to allow the strike to prolong would harm the economy.