The La Casera Company, manufacturers of the popular La Casera beverage in Nigeria is currently embroiled in a labour dispute with its staff.
The Indian-owned company which has been in operation in Nigeria for over a decade recently fired approximately 1300 members of staff – mainly factory workers.
According to protesting staff, the move has made by the company to prevent them from unionizing.
Hundreds of staff had protested on Friday 11th September 2015.
Months prior to the mass retrenching, staff began making plans to join the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) and based on their accounts “Management had every effort to frustrate their unionization efforts culminating to the current situation”
An official statement released by the company outlined their reasons for shutting down.
Over 200 shouting demonstrators, some bussed in from out of state, broke into the factory which employs over 780 people at its site near Mile 2.
Caught unawares with no prior notice, security guards were unable to hold back the unruly group who broke into the complex, entering offices and production areas. Production line workers were compelled to stop work and assemble in the factory yard where they were forced to sign membership consent forms to join the union on the spot. Some of those who refused to sign were brutalized.
Employees who tried to film the disturbance on mobile phones were manhandled and had their phones taken away. Others signed under duress before taking the opportunity caused by a heavy downpour to flee the scene.”
Unable to guarantee the safety of its workers, Management was compelled to shut operations and send everyone home. The plant has remained closed over the weekend with its fate uncertain as leaders of the mob have threatened to return again with an even larger force. Further communication from Management is expected soon.
The Daily Sun reports that the sacked interim chairman of the company’s branch of NUFBTE, Richard Jome stated that “he and about 30 other were sacked on July 30, same day the management invited NUFBTE to inaugurate the elected officers stating that the workers worked under harsh conditions.
Jome said the management sack of the entire workers on September 14 (Monday) meant that over 1,300 have been thrown into the labour market and denied that any property of the company was destroyed on Friday during the first day of protest.“