June 10, 2009

Guinness in fresh layoffs

By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Franklin Alli
BREWERY giant, Guinness   Nigeria PLC, is embarking on a fresh retrenchment exercise as renewed wave of downsizing of workforce hits the Food and Beverage sector of the nation’s economy.

Investigation revealed that the management of Guinness Nigeria Plc recently retrenched over 100 staff after concluding discussion with the labour union in the sector, under the umbrella of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) and its Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB) .
It could be recalled that  earlier in the year over five thousand employees including non-pensionable workers were retrenched in the sector.

During that exercise, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Breweries Limited (NBL), Flour Mill and others were laid off workers.

Vanguard’s investigation revealed that the off-loading of workers is being linked  to the global economic recession and difficult operating environment in the country.

Vanguard investigation revealed that the management had planned to retrench more, but the union resisted and threaten a show down with the management if it goes ahead to retrench  more, reminding the management that it was not long a go the company did a similar retrenchment.

An official of NUFBTE who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said not less than 35 of their members were affected in the  fresh retrenchment exercise by Guinness.

According to him, “the management actually wanted to retrench more, but we told them that on no account can we accept higher number. In fact, we went through pains before we accepted the 35. You  know that long ago they retrenched many workers.”

Confirming the recent lay-off, a top official in the company who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said the layoff cuts across various departments and that the affected staff are from management to the lowest levels.
The source further disclosed that every year, Guinness regularly review its organisational structure to make sure the company delivers world class services and robust returns to shareholders, hence another impending job loss next year.

According to the source, no staff was indiscriminately laid-off without consultation  and negotiation with NUFBTE and FOBTOB, the two industrial unions in the sector.

He added that all affected staff, after acknowledgment and commendation for their contributions towards making the company a world class brewer, management gave them their redundant packages to start something on their own and things like that.

The body decried the attitude of government to manufacturing in the country and posited that evidences on ground pointed to the conclusion that the federal government especially was not perturbed that the nation’s manufacturing sector in other words, industrial development, is at the verge of collapse

Addressing members, AFBTE’s President and Executive Secretary, Chief E A Ukpabi and Mr. Aderemi Adegboyega respectively, lamented that policy inconsistencies, multiple/excessive taxation and deteriorating state of infrastructure the West African Common External Tariff (CET) policy, influx of substandard goods, high lending rate, high inflation and fallen value of the Naira are the major bane to the survival and growth of the sector in the country.