Industrial crisis in food sector imminent, as FOBTOB plans to down tool

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The Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, (FOBTOB), has called on all its members nationwide to embark on a National Strike Action to compel the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers, (AFBTE) to reach an acceptable agreement next Monday

But the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has implored the association to sheath its sword, saying the planned strike would worsen economic plight in the country

A statement  jointly signed by Comrade Quadri Olaleye, President, FOBTOB and Comrade Iji Solomon, General Secretary, FOBTOB,  explained that  the call was sequel to the Association’s public protest of December 7, 2017, where  it registered its displeasure to the employer association’s refusal to review its already expired biannual collective agreement of salaries and fringe benefits.

It recalled that “A meeting was held on Friday, December 8, 2017 with the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) in an effort to reconcile our interests after several disagreements.

Discussions broke down once again as the AFBTE maintained the position that it is satisfied with the current status-quo and would be willing to continue discussion early in 2018, except FOBTOB will accept its offer of 14% as opposed to our 20% demand which according to our industry records is the lowest rate in the past 17 years.”

It added that with the majority of its employers being multinationals that it is unacceptable to the association that AFBTE continues to discriminate against its members in the payment of salaries and fringe benefits after having met their targets and remained profitable.

However, TUC, has condemned the decision of employers in the food and beverage sector under the auspices of Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), to deny a reasonable increment of 20% in the ongoing negotiation between the employers’ body and the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB) members at the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC).

The Congress stated that it was concerned that the long overdue increment and benefit, which is  clearly affordable within the industry and has in fact already been awarded to the junior staff could now be allowed to degenerate into a nationwide strike, at this critical festive period when products of the industry would be in higher demand.

It noted: “Increasing the wages of the junior staff to the extent that they (junior staff) now prefer not to be promoted to management level for us is a deliberate attempt to spite our members and it further speaks volume of the injustice in the system.

Comrade (Dr.) Bobboi Bala Kaigama, its National President and  Comrade (Barr.) Musa-Lawal Ozigi, Secretary General, TUC who  signed the statement, said the congress was concerned about the posture of the representatives of the employers at the NJIC negotiations.

They stated it appears the NJIC was deliberately constituted to spite the senior staff, warning “Any act to diminish the dignity of our members is unacceptable. The fact that as senior staff we choose “jaw- jaw” instead of “war war” does not mean we should be taken for granted.

They added: “The position of the Executive Secretary of AFBTE is to say the least contra-indicative of an officer who wants peace in the industry and defies logic. We hate to say that it looks like we had a better deal in the past and we urge the current administration to take a cue. This will bring peace to the industry as we have employed over the years.”

The multinationals that are affiliated to the association that were mentioned in the statement cut across Flour Mills of Nigeria, Guinness Nigeria Plc, A & P Pladis Foods, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Ajinomoto, Deli Foods, Dangote Industries, Nestle, Cadbury Nigeria and Dufil Prima Indomie.

It stated that: “It is on record that throughout our industry, all other cadres have in the past months enjoyed a review in their salaries and fringe benefits while the Senior Staffs and Managers have been tactically abandoned.

The Congress urged the leadership of AFBTE to expeditiously review its stands on the increment requested by its senior staff and go ahead to pave way for the conclusion of the NJIC Agreement.

It said that already some sectors of the economy are on strike,adding that  any attempt to allow the strike action to go on will collapse the  nation’s fragile economy.

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