- NLC, NUFBTE picket company over victimization of union leaders, sack of workers
By Gabriel Dike
Management of La Casera Company Plc, Lagos and its workers are locked in a bitter battle over the sack of over 1,300 workers on Monday.
The workers are allegedly demanding the right to belong to the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) and the reinstatement of their sacked leaders while La Casera insisted that the sack was over an unwarranted illegal break-in and invasion of its business on Friday, September 11.
The beverage company insisted that that the break-in was a criminal and malicious which resulted in physical attack on innocent and law-abiding workers, adding that company property was vandalised in the process.
Workers are, however, insisting that the firm has ‘anti labour policies’ and is stridently opposed to formation of a union in the company.
The crisis took a twist yesterday when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and NUFBTE stormed the premises and for over six hours picketed the firm. Daily Sun gathered that the protest started on Friday by workers of the firm leading to the disruption of production same day, on Saturday and Sunday but on Monday, NLC and NUFBTE joined the action forcing the management to lock the two gates as well as invite the police.
As early as 7.00am, the workers and NUFBTE official led by the Head of Education/Gender Department, Mr. Mike Olarewaju stormed the firm but met the gates locked and about four police van in front of the company.
The management in a statement dated September 14, 2015 and pasted on the two gates said ‘’unfortunately we regret to inform all our staff of their immediate disengagement. We thank all of you for your past service and wish you success in your future endeavours.’’
The statement further stressed that in order to ensure speedy processing of the workers entitlement, the staff were asked to visit the office of the firm’s representative at Victoria Island in the following order sales, finance and admin on September 22 and other departments on September 23.
The management said the decision to sack the workers was as a result of the unwarranted, illegal break-in and invasion of the premises on Friday thus it ca not guarantee the safety of the staff fom hired hoodlums and their collaborators.
‘’This criminal and malicious action resulted in physical attack on innocent and law abiding workers, as well as vandalisation of our property causing damage to our business in general.
‘’As a result of the unprovoked acts of vandalism, we are unable to continue operations under these circumstances, La Casera management statement explained.’’
The NLC team lead by the state chairman, Mr. Idowu Adelakun decried the opposition of the India firm for the over 1,300 workers to belong to NUFBTE and its anti labour policies such as engaging of casual workers, non remittance of tax and pension to the appropriate bodies.
He said the India management called the workers who were demanding for their rights hoodlums and moneys stating that it is unacceptable and vowed that NLC and NUFBTE would continue the picketing in front of the firm until the workers are allowed to unionised.
Adelakun revealed that the management of the firm refused to meet with NLC delegates nor did they respond to letters and said the union would go to the Foreign Affairs to make inquires on the status of the Indian including their qualifications.
The NUFBTE head of education/gender, Mr. Olarewaju said for over 12 years, the union tried to organize the workers into union but the management opposed the idea and sacked the chairman and some exco elected.
Olarewaju disclosed that the current crisis is based on move by the management to disengage another set of union leaders which was resisted leading to the Friday protest.
He revealed that the India firm engaged a former Managing Director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc as consultant to prepare entitlements and sack letters of some staff on Friday but the situation generated to a protest against management action.
The sacked branch chairman, Mr. Richard Jome told Daily Sun that he and about 30 other were sacked on July 30, same day the management invited NUFBTE to inaugurate the elected officers stating that the workers worked under harsh conditions.
Source : SunOnline