Banjul Breweries Staff and Wholesalers Stage Sit-Down Strike over Excise Tax
Wholesalers and Staff of Banjul Breweries Limited Monday staged a sit-down strike and stopped production to pile pressure on the government to review its excise tax policy.
Scores of protesters who spoke to The Chronicle expressed grievances over what some described as the government’s lackluster attitude towards the company since the beginning of the standoff a few weeks ago.
Officials at Banjul Breweries have complained about the tax increase from 10% to 75%, describing it as unfair, unwarranted and an affront to push the company out of business.
“We the wholesalers are here to protest against the excise tax levied on Banjul Breweries Limited as we are afraid that this company may close down anytime soon. We also want to ask the Gambian government not to fold its arms and allow this company to shutdown because if that happens many families will be affected,” said Osei Dadu, the Secretary General of Wholesalers Association.
“Imagine we have about 56 wholesalers in the country and each of them are employing between five and twenty people. If all these people have to lose their means of survival the result will definitely be painful. We are calling on the government to intervene so as to amicably solve this issue,” he said.
Marie Jarju and Fina Gomez are all women wholesalers who ply their trade in the sale of beverage products from Banjul Breweries. They’ve asked the government to safeguard the interest of small business owners by stopping Banjul Breweries from closing.
“We want to appeal to the government to intervene on our behalf and help us solve this issue as quickly as possible. If Banjul Breweries Ltd. closes, so many families will suffer.”
Justin Marlow, a staff of the breweries company said, “We are more than two hundred staff working here and most of us are married with our children, so if here is to close down then all of our livelihoods will be affected.”
With the staff strike, the company was forced to stop operations for an hour.
“To shut down production line for just an hour is a huge lost. These machines produce ten thousand bottles of drinks every hour. What can we do as a company when all of our staff decided to protest? We had to suspend operations,” said Borry Darboe, the Sales and Marketing Manager.