Workers’ protest shuts BUA’s operations
We’re committed to employees’ welfare, says firm
THERE was pandemonium yesterday at the head office of Nigerian conglomerate, BUA Group, following protest by irate workers, which led to the shutting down of the company’s activities.
Matters took a wild turn around 12:30 pm, when the protesters, who were mainly male employees, began chanting war songs as they barricaded BUA’s head office along Adetokunbo Ademola Street in Victoria Island, Lagos, thereby bringing the activities at the usually busy office to a complete halt.
But a statement attributed to Head of Corporate Communication of BUA Group, O’tega Ogra, denied that the company’s operation was shut. Ogra, according to an electronic message that was sent to The Guardian last night in response to its enquiry said: “There was a protest today, December 1, 2015 at our Head office by employees of our Pasta and Flour subsidiaries due to apprehension over an alleged sale of our flour and pasta milling businesses.
“As a thriving business that has consistently bucked the performance trend positively in the Flour and Pasta business in Nigeria, BUA receives serious unsolicited expressions of Interest from various companies across the world on its various businesses.
“Whilst we have actively considered some of these overtures in the course of the year, we have not sold any of the companies at this time. In the event we sell any of our subsidiaries, we are committed to ensuring all employees get their full benefits in line with the company policy.”
The Guardian also gathered that attempts by the Chairman and Chief Executive of the company, Abdulsamad Rabiu, to beat the protest and attend crucial meetings hit brick wall as the aggrieved workers cut off every access points to the premises and prevented entry into or exit from the facility.
The protesters demanded that Rabiu must leave his office and address them on what he plans to do to enhance their welfare. They prevented both visitors and customers of the company from going into the premises.
As officers of the Nigeria Police who arrived in two police pickup vans tried to bring the situation under control, the workers persisted, lamenting alleged anti-labour practices, poor and frustrating work condition to which they have been subjected by the company.
One of the workers, who gave his name as Emeka, told The Guardian that for the 12 years he has been working for the company, he has nothing to show, adding that his future is very bleak as the company is embarking on massive lay-off of workers without benefits.
“Many of our workers have died because of the very poor and improper work environment; some of us are nursing various kinds of illnesses. A few weeks ago, I had to undergo a surgery for hernia and many of my colleagues can no longer breath properly, because of blocked lungs due to dust from the flour that we produce,” he agonised.
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