By Tunde Osho
Human rights activist and labour lawyer, Mr. Femi Aborisade, has called on employers in the food, beverage and tobacco sector, Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) to accede to the demands of workers in the sector, (Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association) FOBTOB, by granting them the 20% pay rise they have sought and bring to an end the industrial strike.
The labour activist said that despite the economic difficulties the country was experiencing, the food, beverage and tobacco industry has witnessed strong growth in both revenue and profits.
He cited the most recent financial results of International Breweries Plc (IBPlc) and Nestle Nigeria Plc to bolster his claim that employers in the sector has seen appreciable gains in their businesses and therefore should compensate the workers who labored to make it possible.
Quoting an excerpt from IBPlc six months results to the end of September:
“The Board is happy to note that despite the challenges in the operating environment, there are improvements in revenue growth, operating profit before tax compared with the same period in the prior year,” the statement read.
Also referencing comments made by Company Secretary/Legal Adviser for Nestle Nigeria plc, Bode Ayeku Esq, following release of the firm’s financial results ending in September, the statement read in part:
“… Net profit for the period has increased substantially due to internal cost saving initiatives, operating efficiency and a significant reduction in the net financing costs.”
Aborisade said he shares solidarity with members of FOBTOB and their demands for a 20% pay raise. He called on the Federal Government to adopt policies that would ensure that employers live up to their social responsibilities as well as systematically grant wage increases to their workers when their profits are rising.
General Secretary of FOBTOB, Solomon Iji, had on 13th December announced a suspension of the strike following the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour to allow both FOBTOB and AFBTE to go back and negotiate in good faith. The strike had commenced on 11th December following a breakdown of negotiations between AFBTE and FOBTOB over what the workers said was a “failure by employer’s body to review salary.” The workers had demanded a 20% salary increase and other fringe benefits, while the employer’s body (AFBTE) had agreed to pay a 14% increase.
In a statement released by the General Secretary at the time of the strike suspension, it said that: The principle of “no work, no pay” will not be applied against the employees’ negotiations between FOBTOB and AFBTE; that negotiations should conclude between 14th and 17th December, 2017. Failure to agree would result in FOBTOB and AFBTE returning to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment by Monday December 18, 2017.”
There has been no word from either group or the Federal Government on the status or outcome of the negotiation.