The Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday, decried the negative effects of federal government policies and the COVID-19 pandemic on the food, beverage and tobacco sector, saying the sector has suffered several factory closures and redundancies.
TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, who doubles as the outgoing President of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB), stated this in Abuja during the 14th National Delegates Conference of the association.
"It is no news that the COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the food, beverage and tobacco industry as an engine room for boosting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The hardworking members of the Association defied all odds to ensure that food items were made available to Nigerians during the lockdown.
"It was very unfortunate that despite the vantage position of this industry to our economical sustenance, it has not received 10 percent of the attention given to other sectors of the economy. The production cost has gone up but nothing has been done in terms of financial support and tax relief by the government to cushion the effects of this.
"Rather, we are subjected to different bans ranging from accessibility of forex to import of raw materials to forced backward integration. We are not opposed to backward integration in any form but its implementation was ill-timed as it has led to massive redundancy in our industry," Olaleye said.
He explained that companies under FOBTOB had sacked not less than 1,478 workers between 2015 and 2021, which had diminished Nigeria's revenue.
He further said, "It is our hope that the government would wake up from the snail speed approach to governance since governance is a serious business for serious-minded people. The government must urgently start addressing the issue of the growing unemployment rate, insecurity, and the general infrastructural decay in our nation."