We Sacked Only 26 - Management
A mass retrenchment exercise is in progress at the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, NBC , bottlers of Coca-Cola and Eva Water. The exercise, which began on 2 September, is expected to rid the company of 200 managers and, the leadership of the workers' union.
The first batch of sack letters went to 26 managers. According to the NBC management, the managers, sacked with immediate effect, had to go because of "repeated poor performance". The decision was said to have been the product of a performance appraisal exercise. But NBC sources revealed that well over a hundred managers have been issued sack letters, with their retrenchment taking effect from 12 September. According to sources, the exercise has affected an average of 15 managers per plant.
At the Ibadan plant, located at Asejire, 18 managers were affected. The letter also said the affected persons should hand over their identity cards latest by 12 September.
The affected persons were also immediately barred from NBC systems and for a few days, were denied access into their offices. Though the restriction of access to their offices has been lifted, they remain barred from the company's computer network.
The sack of the first category of managers provoked the NBC chapter of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees into calling for a strike, which lasted betweenTuesday and Thursday last week. The union argued that arrangements for the severance benefits to those affected were not made before they were thrown out of job. The strike action was called off, following the intervention of the national leaders of the union. A day after the suspension of the strike, however, the management moved against leaders of NBC chapter of the union and representatives of the union at the company's plants by terminating their appointments. This was quickly followed by sack letters to more managers.
NBC sources accuse the company's Managing Director, Mr. Ben Langat, a Kenyan, of a desire to shut out Nigerians from key positions. According to them, almost all the function heads in the company are foreigners, including Kenyans. "Even the head of security is not a Nigerian. He is a white man as if NBC is an embassy," said a source.
But Uzo Odenigbo, NBC's head of Public Affairs and Communications told newsbreak.ng, via email, that the company
did not lay off 200 employees for dwindling performance. "As it is consistent with standard management practice, the company carried out the 2013 performance appraisal exercise resulting in the disengagement of 26 staff for repeated poor performance as well as the rapid promotion of another set of 88 employees for exceptional performance.
There was an industrial action by branch members of the Foods, Beverage and Tobacco Employees on the above in the immediate past week," said Odenigbo.
He also faulted claims that Nigerians are being systematically frozen out of key positions in the company "NBC is an equal opportunity employer and is not prejudiced against any nationality. Our strength lies in our diversity. In its 62 years of operating in Nigeria, the company has benefitted from outstanding leadership from men and women of diverse nationalities. Currently, its Functional Leadership Team is composed of four Nigerians among whom three are women, one Kenyan, one French, one South African, one Indian and one Russian," he explained.