The Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FBTSSA) and the National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) have expressed serious concerns about the Nigerian government’s ban on sachet alcohol, warning that the move could jeopardise up to 500,000 jobs.
The assoociations, in a press statement, argued that the ban on sachet alcohol production and sales would cause a significant job loss and negatively impact the livelihoods of those who work in the industry. They also criticised the policy for exacerbating the country’s economic woes, citing the potential closure of beverage companies that produce sachet and PET bottle alcohol as a significant risk.
Expressing their frustration, they stated, “This singular action (the ban) has sent over 500,000 breadwinners out of jobs and into the oversaturated Nigerian labour market.”
Members of the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DBAN) also expressed their frustration over the same issue, staging a protest at the headquarters of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Oshodi, Lagos State.
The protest by the distillers followed an announcement by Mojisola Adeyeye,the director general of NAFDAC, that the agency would begin enforcement of the ban on sachet and PET bottle alcohol. In a statement issued on Monday, February 5,NAFDAC stated that the ban would take effect immediately and would apply to alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, Idogen Emmanuel, the vice chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), lamented that many of the union’s members have been forced to stay at home since the ban and sealing of companies producing sachet and PET bottle alcoholic beverages went into effect.
Emmanuel characterised NAFDAC’s actions as detrimental to the workforce, particularly at a time when the economy is already struggling. He called for the agency to reconsider its ban, stating that it would have severe consequences for the livelihoods of many workers. He argued that a more constructive solution, such as a dialogue between the industry and the government, would be more effective in addressing the issues surrounding the consumption of alcoholic beverages in sachets and PET bottles.
In his words, “Last Thursday, NAFDAC moved to go and seal up all our companies producing sachet drinks, forgetting that the economy is so tense and harsh, and they want to throw millions of persons back into the labour market.
The excuse of NAFDAC is that small children consume these sachet drinks, but it is boldly written on all our sachet drinks that it is meant for persons aged 18 and above.
“We are battling with the hardship of the fuel subsidy removal and dollar floating as manufacturers and now the government just decided to seal up companies because they said small children are consuming it (alcohol). It is an aberration.
“We are appealing to NAFDAC to reopen these companies so that we can come to a round table and look for a way forward. If they feel that we are not doing enough to sensitise the public, retailers and wholesalers on the need for them not to sell to children, we are ready to do more but it is wrong to close the companies at this time that the economy of the nation is unstable.”
Business a.m gathered that in response to the ban, NAFDAC has begun enforcement efforts, resulting in the shutdown of several factories for violating the new rules regarding sachet alcoholic beverages.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that NAFDAC officials began enforcing the ban on sachet alcoholic beverages in Osun State on Tuesday,February 6. The officials reportedly visited some factories in Osogbo, Ilesa, and Ile-Ife where the beverages were being produced in sachets, PET bottles, and glass bottles of 100ml or less.