BimbolaOyesola, [email protected]
Organised labour in the food sector has called on the Federal Government to mandate all expatriates working in the sector to go through the COVID-19 test in order to curtail the spread of the virus in the country.
The National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), at the weekend, emphasised the need for expatriates to immediately submit to the COVID-19 test so that the sector would not suffer an outbreak of the virus.
The president of the union, Lateef Oyelekan, who raised the alarm, told Sun Workforce that majority of the expatriates just returned to Nigeria after holidaying abroad and may pose grave danger for Nigerians working with them.
He said, “We want all our employers to ensure that all their expatriates working in the food sector submit themselves to the coronavirus test. Most of them went for holidays and came back between February and now, so all of them, including their relatives, should be tested for the virus.”
Though the NUFBTE president could not explain what informed the union’s decision, our investigation revealed that one of the companies in the sector has closed down production since one of the expatriates working in the firm tested positive to the virus.
The food sector is one of the essential services where the union’s president confirmed that companies were still working marginally.
Oyelekan emphasised the importance of the food sector to the economy, stating that the sector could not afford to shut down at this point of the economy: “We are still working skeletally, our members work part-time to ensure Nigerians have food on their table even as they stay at home. We are part of the workers on essential duties and that is why we want government to address this issue of testing all the expatriates,”
He insisted that NUFBTE was after protecting the interest and welfare of its members and would not allow them to be exposed. He also commended the workers who, despite the present health challenges, have continued to be on duty to ensure that Nigerians’ needs were well catered for.
He stated that, “We commend all our members doing great work at this period because, without food, other problems may arise. The importance of food is vital to human existence, even to recover from ill health, and that’s why I want to appeal to government and well-meaning Nigerians to support the less privileged with food.”