…Pickets Flour Mills, 7-Up, others
Stories by Bimbola Oyesola, 08033246177
Members of the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB) have protested against the unfavourable working environment foisted on them by the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFTBE).
The union declared that its members cannot continue to work while others get the gains of their sweat, adding that the gradual casualisation of the industry, evident in the near rejection of their demands by AFTBE, was unethical.
President of the union, Quadri Olaleye, during the joint peaceful protest held by the union simultaneously at selected companies in Apapa and Ikeja, Lagos State, said the collective agreement for the review of their salaries and other fringe benefits for the members had been due since August 2017.
He said despite sending proposals to AFTBE since July, negotiations only commenced in October, which showed that AFTBE was executing an agenda against their union.
The FOBTOB president said the narrowing of their demands down to two from seven by the employers, with a refusal to discuss other items contained in the proposal, having delayed negotiations for so long, was against good labour practise.
He said: “It is regrettable that despite the fact that five consecutive meetings were held with the employers, it appears that the employers are not willing to discuss in good faith with our union, based on the realities on ground.
“Currently, overlapping salaries between the cadres in the industry has reached an extent that some junior staff are reluctant to accept promotion to senior staff cadre as they enjoy more benefits than their senior colleagues such as overtime allowance, not extended to us and as managers, we are being cheated despite our input in the business.”
He lamented the domineering presence of expatriates in the food, beverage and tobacco industry, which he said was unfortunate in a country without a proper social security scheme, as the expatriates are paid salaries and allowances that are outrageously high for jobs that they lack the requisite expertise to man.
“The number of years for an expatriate to stay and be understudied is four in the country but the situation is not so here as some of them are so powerful and connected that they have exceeded the number of years to stay,” he said.
Olaleye maintained that the union wants AFBTE to tackle the issue of illegal and unqualified expatriates that have flooded the industry under fictitious titles.
He added that the union also wants an end to victimisation of its members through various redundancy exercises, stressing that the offer from the employer was ridiculous and unacceptable.
General secretary of the union, Solomon Iji, at the premises of Flour Mills Nigeria, Nigeria Breweries and 7-Up Bottling Company, said it was appalling that employers now victimised union members, which he described as anti-labour.