Workers at Adama Beverages Ltd, a Yola-based company owned by former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, are protesting alleged mistreatment by company management.
Adama Beverages Ltd, which produces bottled water and fruit juices, distributes its products under the famous FARO brand in Adamawa state and much of the rest of the north.
The workers, however, gathered on Tuesday with green leaves and signs, asking the Indians who run the company to step down.
“We only need Nigerians,” proclaimed one of the signs.
Another sign reads: “Hadi must go.”
Hadi, reporters were told, is the name of a Nigerian company executive who is said to be in cohort with Indians who run the company to slander lower-level workers.
Lower carding workers who are Nigerians have told reporters that Indians who are the upper managers call Nigerian monkeys and generally treat them with disdain.
Our correspondent learned on Tuesday that the protests started on Monday when casual staff showed up for work and were asked to return home as production had ceased.
Shedding further light on the immediate cause of the workers’ protests, the Company’s Association of Senior Executives of Food Drink and Tobacco Industry Employees (FOBTOB) said management erred in not informing no casual workers in advance that they would not be needed at the moment.
Association President Mr. Palke Jackson said, “This is off-season production, so one would expect the casual staff doing production to be asked to stop work, would simply had to be informed accordingly on time rather than suddenly being asked to stop working.
Jackson also explained that even permanent staff joined the workers’ protest because eleven of them were questioned by management on the charge that the eleven contributed to unauthorized meetings.
“We oppose requests because, at the very least, we believe that now is not the time to ask anybody else,” he said.
Jackson, however, opposed the insistence of young protesting workers that Indian leaders step down.
“That’s what young workers say, but we as workers, senior or junior, did not employ Indians, so we have no right to ask them to leave,” Jackson said.
The casual workers refused to return home as directed, and the permanent staff did not agree to work; therefore all the workers of the company occupy the main door of the company, causing the shutdown of all operations, at least until Tuesday evening.
Management staff were not available when journalists were approached for their part of the workers’ protest.
The deputy managing director of the company, Mr. Francis Vazheparambil, told reporters that he did not have a mandate to speak to them.