By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS—WORKERS and management of Consolidated Food and Beverages Limited, a subsidiary of Doyin Group of Companies, are presently at loggerheads over alleged breach of agreement on payment of salary arrears.
The workers had embarked on strike between November 22nd and 26th, 2010 over perceived refusal of the company to pay them their three months salary arrears between September and November, resulting in the shutdown of operations by the aggrieved workers who barricaded the entrance of the company located in Okokomaiko, an outskirts of Lagos.
It took the intervention of members of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees, NUFBTE, led by the Head of Department, Research and Statistics, Mr. Hammed Awobifa, to placate the workers who had insisted that until their salary arrears were paid, the gate to the company’s premises will remain shut.
The management was said to have promised to spread the payment between December and January, based on the directive of the Chairman of Doyin Group but the workers turned down the offer.
But after, a short meeting between the NUFBTE leadership and the management team, led by the factory manager, Mr. Bisi Adumo, who agreed to pay the first salary arrears by Wednesday, December 8, did the magic, as the workers were persuaded o open the gate and resume work.
However, when payment commenced as agreed, some of the workers were issued letters to proceed on compulsory leave against a commitment that no worker would be victimized because of the strike.
The Factory manager when asked about the rationale behind the action, was said to have explained that the compulsory leave was not punitive, but a way of shedding heavy wage burden temporarily.
According to him, because of low sales, the company had been running at 30percent of installed capacity with some of the workers being idle most of the time and noted the Chairman had not reneged on his promise to pay the salary arrears.
He insisted that October salary would be paid on December 15, while November salary would be paid on December 30, stressing that the leave was temporary as more workers would resume as soon as production improves.