Yes stops operation due to strike
Disagreement over employee’s salary adjustments resulted in firing of 89 workers and partial shutdown of Yes Brands Food & Beverage PLC, a water bottling company, The Reporter has learnt.
The incident started last week, few days prior to the Ethiopian Christmas holiday, following a notice from the company where it announced it has made a salary adjustment ranging between 5 and 15 percent to its employees. In addition, the company, which is co-owned by local and foreign investors, informed the employees that it is planning to provide five packs of bottled water to the employees as a holiday gift.
This action by the company, however, did not please the workers.
Neither the salary increment nor adjustments were made in accordance with the standards set by Yes Workers Association and the Company, an employee of the company whose name is withheld upon request, told The Reporter.
The salary adjustment was supposed to be made after the financial audit for the reporting year 2017 was completed by an external auditor and should have been calculated from the net profit, argue the worker who is also close to the matter.
In addition, there was an agreement with the company to offer 500 birr in the form of holiday bonus for the entire workers three times a year: for Christmas, Easter and New Year, he said. However, for Christmas, the company gave only five packs of bottled water instead of the 500 in cash.
Later on, things started to take another shape.
In a notice made by the Company on January 7, Yes decided to terminate the contract of some 89 workers who were accused of organizing a labor strike three days ago.
Such acts are unacceptable and it puts the company in a very difficult position, Wondossen Regassa, deputy CEO of Yes told The Reporter.
The company decided to make salary adjustment even at a time where we are in a very turbulent financial situation, he said.
Following the firing of the 89 employees, two of its plants in Alem Gena, 15 kilometers west of Addis Ababa, have stopped operation.
These two factories each have an average production capacity of bottling 30,000 liters and 15,000 liters of two liter and one liter of bottled water, per day.
It has been almost eight days since the two factories have stopped production.
The Company accuses the workers of orchestrating the shutdown of the two plants.
To the contrary, the workers argue that it is the company which decided to close down the two plants.
After firing the 89 workers, the Company has managed to reorganize the rest of the workers, numbered 205, to start working.
“We have agreed with the rest 205 workers to restart production,” Wondossen said.
But source close to the case argue differently and claim that the 205 workers are not all in agreement with new terms the company has set for them.
The company management was insisting on forming a new worker’s association, said the same source; “but none of the workers agreed.”
Following the turbulence situation between the workers and the company, the case has now gone to the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions.
The Reporter learnt that workers have also submitted their complaints to the Federation of Beverage, Tobacco & Allied Trade Unions.
Following the incident, Yes has informed officials of the regional administration, according to Wondossen.
Yes, founded by Alemayehu Nigusse, the co-owner of Saro Maria Hotel is equally owned by Catalyst Principal Partners.
The bottling company alone is estimated to employee over 500 workers.
“We are informed about the situation and we will do further investigation,” said Fatiya Mohammed, head of Oromia Region Social and Labour Bureau.