28 May 2019

Gambia: Banjul Breweries Staff Protest for Second Time

Workers of the Banjul Breweries Company Ltd., On Monday May 27th 2019, expressed concern about their jobs and as a result, assembled at the entrance of the Company for the second time barely a week after their first protest.

The workers who mobilized themselves in large numbers, called on Government to consider reducing the high tax levied on their Company, resorting to a massive laying off of their colleagues. This, according to most of the staff, is due to the 75% tax increment on the Company.

Baila Danso, Spokesperson of Banjul Breweries workers' union said they are not actually on strike, but instead conveying a message to Government to remind them about their proposals. Danso said Government is aware that their Company has over 200 workers and the tax levied on them is too high which he said, might cause the permanent closure of the Company.

"When this happens, the rate of unemployment will keep growing and this is not a solution to any problem. I am appealing to Government to reduce the tax levied on Banjul Breweries for us to continue our work in a state of progress," Danso remarked.

Kebba Seedy Bojang, a senior operator at the Banjul Breweries said the high level of tax levied on alcohol produced by their Company, is not helping their situation at all; that the tax is high, and "we are appealing to the Government to reduce it. Government should consider our means and source of survival. If such a percentage is levied on us, then the Company will collapse, and we will lose our jobs. Therefore, we will find it difficult to survive because we have responsibilities," he said.

Alagie Ceesay, President of Banjul Breweries workers' union said he heard the news on TV that the tax on Banjul Breweries is increased to 75%; that something similar happened last year. He said at the time wrote to parliamentarians to request a session or dialogue with them, which yielded positive results for them.

"The saddest thing is, we wrote to the Ministry of Trade for four consecutive times without getting any response from them. Follow ups were made to no avail," he lamented. "The Banjul Breweries has created a lot of employment for youth in the country, and we have sponsored so many successful programs organised by youth of the country," he concludes.

About 18 staff of the Company have already been laid off and many are expected to follow suit due to the increase on Tax on Alcoholic beverages. Many people believe that Government should fast track the negotiations for a possible compromise on the terms; that if not, the Company will lay off many staff.

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