The Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FBTSS) and the National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) have raised concerns over the looming threat of unemployment for more than 500,000 workers.
This apprehension stems from the recent prohibition on the sale and consumption of alcohol packaged in sachets and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has initiated the enforcement of a ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.
Expressing their concerns, members of these associations staged a protest at the Lagos office of NAFDAC, urging the Federal Government to intervene to safeguard the jobs of half a million Nigerians.
During the protest, representatives from the unions outlined the potential economic setbacks associated with the ban and implored the government to reconsider its position. They emphasized the grave possibility of more than 500,000 breadwinners losing their livelihoods and entering an already oversaturated labor market.
Furthermore, the associations highlighted the potential adverse effects on the Nigerian economy, warning of the potential closure of industries involved in the production of these products.
Emmanuel Idogien, Vice Chairman of NUFBTE Lagos Council, voiced concerns about the imminent threat to jobs, stating, “Most of our jobs are at stake. Many companies will fold up, especially those local industries that serve as raw materials to the producers.”
The unions stressed the compliance of their employers with regulations and their contribution to the economy through substantial tax payments amounting to billions of naira. They also highlighted their efforts in public advocacy to raise awareness about the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption and underage drinking.
Appealing to NAFDAC and the Federal Government, the unions urged a reconsideration of the complete ban on these products. Instead, they proposed regulation and public enlightenment campaigns as viable alternatives to address concerns about alcohol consumption.
The unions likened the blanket ban to discarding valuable resources along with undesirable ones and warned of potential health risks associated with the rise of counterfeit and illicit alcohol products in the absence of regulated alternatives.
The protest reflects the growing tension surrounding the implementation of the alcohol ban and its potential impact on both industry workers and the wider economy.