Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



For Unity of All Categories of Workers against Management’s Anti-Worker Policies

By Eko John Nicholas and Oduemen Owis

Hundreds of workers, mainly junior and contract staff, embarked on strike on Monday 3rd February, 2014, to protest against the mass retrenchment of workers without pay by the management of Consolidated Breweries PLC. The strike, which took place at the Imagbon, Ijebu Ode, Ogun state, plant and lasted the whole week, disrupted production lines at the plant, leading to shorting down the company. Consolidated Breweries PLC, the makers of 33 Export Lager beer, Turbor King, and other popular brands like Hi Malt soft drinks, is a subsidiary of Heinekens International. It also has other plants across the country viz. Awo Omamma plant in Imo state, Champion Brewery in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Benue Brewery in Benue state.

The company’s management acquired and installed new machinery early last year, and subsequently introduced some computer software known as Hie-lite, Hie-code and Hie-Rule. This software is meant to monitor and control packages. This “new innovation” led to the sack of over 3,000 workers whom the management claimed were redundant, without paying them their entitlements. This happened in May last year. Shortly afterwards, the management introduced what it termed work performance appraisal of staff. Under the scheme, individual work performances were to be assessed and graded based on criteria set by the company. But the management never communicated this to the workers. Neither did they invite any of the staff for interviews, something which is supposed to be part of the evaluation procedures. To surprise of the workers, the management announced early this year the results of the appraisal exercise from which over 120 workers were penciled down for lay off across plants nationwide. Indeed, the management has commenced the distribution of sack letters to the affected workers!

Facing a backlash to its latest attack on workers, the management employed deceit and outright threats to compel the affected staff to sign and collect their sack letters, with 3-month basic salaries as the pay-off! At Awo Omamma, workers were forced by the management to collect their letters, by lying to them that those at the Uyo plant had collected their letters, and that those who failed to comply had been locked out of company’s premises. Meanwhile, workers at Uyo plant were unaware of the development at Awo Omamma plant! This same obnoxious tactics were employed at Benue Plant using Imagbon plant as a false pretext. Fortunately, workers at the Imagbon plant got wind of this development before the management could commence the distribution of the sack letters in the plant and consequently embarked on strike to preempt and forestall the management action, and demanded end to these retrenchments. Added to this was the demand for the regularization of the employment of casual staff to permanent employment with full benefits. The casual workers constitute over 60% of the company’s work force and perform over 80% of the job!

As soon as the strike action begun, the management rather than engaged the workers, opted to invite soldiers and police to the company’s premises to intimidate and forcefully disperse the workers, who had gathered at the entrance gate. The state chapter of the National Union of Food, Tobacco and Beverage Employees (NUBTE), subsequently intervened on the 4th day of the strike, and had a meeting with the management which lasted for over 3 hours. The workers were asked to gather the next day Friday 7 February, 2014, at the company’s gate to be briefed of the outcome of the meeting with the management. Members of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) were at the gathering in solidarity with the striking workers.

An official of the union informed the gathering that the union recognized the company’s right to hire and fire, but that the management had agreed to pay all entitlements due to the workers already penciled down for sack! He also reported that the management promised that the appraisal of workers in future would be transparent! On the regularization of contract staff, he informed the gathering that the management had agreed to do something about their plights soon! He therefore urged the workers to return to work. Though the time was about 1pm, he implored those on morning shift to resume immediately. This led to uproar, and agitations amongst the casual staff, who insisted on documented evidence, i.e. a written agreement with the union, from the management, as the only valid condition for calling off the strike action. They accused the junior staff representatives of betrayal and the state officials of the union of dishonesty. They insisted that no worker would be allowed entry to resume duty and subsequently barred the gate!

The CDWR members discussed some workers from both divides. It was obvious that whilst the casual staff were willing to continue the struggle till their demands were meant, the junior workers seemed satisfied with the limited concessions from the management, and were willing to resume duties immediately! Undoubtedly, this seeming crack within the ranks of workers would be exploited on by the management to suppress the agitations of casual staff and shortchange even the junior workers. We urged the two categories to remain united and see the injury as the injury to all. It is by their united action the anti-worker policies of the management can be defeated. The CDWR will actively keep in touch with the workers, and continue to monitor events as they unfold in the company in coming periods.


  • Immediate stop to retrenchment of workers
  • An end to all forms of contract staffing and immediate regularization of the employment of the current casual workers
  • Immediate recall of sacked workers with full remunerations, and payment of entitlements to those who chose not to return
  • For better pay and working conditions
  • For unity and joint action of all categories of workers against all anti-worker policies of the management