The nation’s organized labour union warned on Wednesday of an impending job loss crisis of over three million workers in the food, beverage and tobacco sector of the economy over inability of companies in the sector to obtain foreign exchange to import needed raw materials for their operations.
They said that some of the leading companies in the sector such as Nigerian Flour Mills, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Bottling Company Plc, 7-Up Bottling Company Plc, FrieslandCampina Wamco, among others have written to them for discussions on retrenchment of workers.
In the last three months, no less than 1,500 workers in the sector have lost their jobs as companies look for ways to cope with the foreign exchange crisis, among other challenges.
At a briefing in Lagos, leaders of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB) called on the Federal Government to intervene to save the industry and over three million jobs.
President of FOBTOB, Quadri Olaleye, claimed that employers in the sector have come-up with innovative ways to sack workers, adding that between 2012 and the first half of 2015, over 3,000 workers had lost their jobs in the sector to what the employers framed as re-engineering, restructuring, right-sizing, downsizing, redundancy and re-organisation.
He lamented that over the years, the same excuse of difficult business terrain, dwindling profit, irregular and insufficient power supply, and so on had been given.
He said: “The current situation has reached a pathetic level because it seems all the employers in our sector are in competition with each other on who can lay-off the most workers.
“Every company is now calling for a downsizing of the workforce, and this time under the guise of lack of foreign exchange due to the federal government’s recent policy on foreign exchange.
“We are aware that not all the raw materials used in our industry can be sourced locally. Where they can be found, they are mostly not available in commercial quantity.
That is why it is important that the government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) take a second look at the policy on foreign exchange to avoid shutting down the companies in our industry.”
Olaleye added that companies who have been affected by the recent crisis in foreign exchange are intellectually lazy to engage in research development on alternative sources of raw materials.