Soft drink maker La Casera on Monday shut down operations at its Mile 2 Plant on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos, saying it could not guarantee the safety of workers.
This is contained in a statement by the company’s spokesman, Mr Tola Bademosi, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
The statement explained that over 200 demonstrators led by representatives of the National Union of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) invaded the company’s premises on Saturday and Monday.
The statement said that the invasion led to disruption of production as workers were compelled by the unionists to stop work and sign a consent form.
"Over 200 shouting demonstrators of the NUFBTE broke into the factory which employs over 780 people at its site near Mile 2.
"Caught unawares with no prior notice, security guards were unable to hold back the unruly group who broke into the complex, entering offices and production areas.
"Production line workers were compelled to stop work and assemble in the factory yard, where they were forced to sign membership consent forms to join the union on the spot.’’
The statement also claimed that some of those who refused to sign the forms were brutalised.
"Employees who tried to film the disturbance on mobile phones were man-handled and had their phones taken away.
"Others signed under duress before taking the opportunity caused by a heavy downpour to flee the scene.
"Unable to guarantee the safety of its workers, the management was compelled to shut operations and send everyone home.
"The plant has remained closed over the weekend with its fate uncertain as leaders of the mob have threatened to return with an even larger force,’’ the statement said.
Since it commenced operations in Lagos 15 years ago, La Casera Apple Drink has become one of Nigeria’s top soft drink brands.