La Casera sacks 700 workers over unionisation

By Yetunde Ebosele   |   14 September 2015   |   11:58 pm  

La-CaseraOver 700 workers of La Casera Company Limited were yesterday laid off following a face-off between the workers’ union and the company’s management over unionisation of the workforce.

The workers’ sack was contained in a notice put up by the company, sequel to alleged disruption of operations by members of the National Union of Food, Beverages and Tobacco of Employees (NUFBTE).

The notice dated September 14 and addressed to all members of staff stated that, “as a result of the unwarranted breaking-in and invasion of our business premises on Sept. 11, we cannot guarantee the wellbeing of our employees from hired hoodlums and their collaborators.

“As a result of this unprovoked act of vandalism, we are unable to continue operations under this circumstance.

“Unfortunately we regret to inform all our staff of their immediate disengagement.’’

Indeed, trouble began at the weekend when NUFBTE officials allegedly disrupted the operations of the company over unionisation of workers.

The statement made available to The Guardian yesterday signed by the company’s spokes person, Tola Bademosi, alleged that, “over 200 shouting demonstrators, some bused 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 brutalised. Employees who tried to film the disturbance on mobile phones were punched and beaten and had their phones taken away. Others signed under duress before taking the opportunity caused by a heavy downfall of rain to flee the scene.”

Besides, Badamosi, in the statement, also alleged that the company was forced to shut down operations and send its workers home since it couldn’t compromise their safety, adding “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”.

Reacting to the allegation leveled against its members, the Union’s Senior Assistant Secretary and Head of Education Department, Mike Olanrewaju said the company was only being economical with the truth.

According to him, the company had refused on several occasions to allow its workers unionise despite many attempts by the union to parley it on the issue.

Specifically, he alleged that the union had on several occasions written to the company on the need for its workers to unionise all to no avail.

He said the Ministry of Labour had even waded in but the company has resisted all attempts to allow its workforce unionise, adding that the company had in an attempt to block the process, taken the union to the Industrial court with the case still before the court.

Speaking on the recent protest in the company, Olarenwaju alleged that the union got a wind of the company’s attempt to disengage all its workers and force them to enter into new contract.

Besides, he alleged that the company in time past has been terminating appointments of all members of the steering committee on unionisation of workers set up by the union in the company.

He however denied the fact that hoodlums were engaged to damage properties and brutalise workers as alleged by the company, saying members were duly mobilised to embark on the protest.

“For 12 years the company had denied workers the right to be unionised, when an in-house union was about to be inaugurated, the management of the company sacked the chairman, which made the NUFBTE officials to visit the company on Friday, Sept 11 to address the workers.

“We were surprised today (yesterday) that the company locked the gate and sacked the workers. Meanwhile the case between the workers and the company over unionisation is currently in the National Industrial Court’’.

But a new twist was introduced to the issue as about 700 workers of the company were yesterday sacked over what the management said was invasion of its premises by hoodlums.

The workers arrived at the company premises in Amuwo Odofin Industrial Estate, Mile 2 in Lagos and found the gate locked and a notice of disengagement.

Speaking on the new development, Olanrewaju urged the government to intervene in issues of unfair labour practices perpetuated by foreign companies.

He said until the workers are re-absorbed, the union would continue to picket the company.



  • Fada4Life

    The company should allow her employees to join Union, but Voluntarily

  • PONOMAN

    THEY SHOULD GO AND FIND ANOTHER JOB OR UNIONISE IN THEIR HOMES. THEY WERE ALLOWED TO WORK AND THEY START LOOKING FOR UNION ALLOWANCE INSTEAD OF MAINTAINING THEIR SALARY. EVERYTHING IS NOT NOISE MAKING. OYA NOW WITHOUT JOBS GO AND OPEN YOUR OWN COMPANY

  • benny agafa

    It is mandatory that every worker should belong to a union. It is constitutional

    • emmanuel kalu

      it might be constitutional, which to me is wrong. but you don’t have a right to a job, not even from the govt not to mention private company. you can’t force people to join a union, it has to be of their own will, and the union should work with the mgmt to grow the company and it workers. now, no more work. i am pretty sure the owner is not suffering, but 700 worker are not about to feel the pain.

  • monarch

    There is freedom of association. And there is always unions in an organizations that employed such a number of people. They should know we are no more in the time of preindustrial period where workers are not allowed to unioniz. It is obvious they don’t want unions so they would be treating the workers like slaves. What a crude management.

    • PONOMAN

      OLD BOY OPEN YOUR OWN COMPANY EMPLOY WORKERS, ASK THEM TO FORM UNIONS. BUSYBODY. HOW MANY WORKERS HAVE YOU EMPLOYED YOU GOAT

  • Nuel

    Oya now, Let them go and for a National Union Of Unemployed People. It so unfortunate that in a country where manufacturing companies are finding it hard to survive coupled with the high cost of doing business, some fools who out of utterly disrespect for constituted authorities refused to engage in constructive dialogue and only wait to reap from where they did not sow waiting to get remunerated from union deductions.They too should float their manufacturing outfits and see how “rossy” it is

  • emmanuel kalu

    i am a big supporter of union to some extend. however some unions in nigeria are just made up of thugs that collect money and they don’t know how to deal properly. if you look at germany, union and management work so well together, that germany companies encourage unions.
    so mr union that is storming company premise, here is what is going to happen. the owner of the company probably have enough money. they would shut it down, move it to a place that is much better for them. now the union would have 700 people unemployed.

  • Peter

    Well I feel for those 700 workers, but I personally don’t like the way this ‘company in question’ treats their workers. I know its quite challenging running a business in any part of the world, but I also believe a reasonably fair treatment of workers is very vital for any business success. I’ve said all this because when I was searching for a job right after my Nysc I remember I was invited for a test by this company, and on hearing their work terms, I quietly worked out of the exam hall knowing that my effort would not be adequately appreciated as the financial motivation was even very low for a graduate.

    I wish both the union and the company a quick resolve to their differences and I also hope this company will carefully look into their workers welfare from henceforth.

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