Federation of food, beverage, tobacco and allied trade union raises concerns that employees of Meta Abo Brewery are not receiving the right information even though BGI Ethiopia started managing the factory without the approval of the Ethiopian trade competition and consumer protection authority on the transition.
Employees of Meta Abo Brewery have also piled their complaints as the company remains silent about its transition and their future.
Due to continued complaints of Meta employees, the federation has held several meetings with top managements of Meta and government bodies and as Dereje waktola, president of the federation said, there is no clear information given to the federation.
“Even if we ask to see legal agreement of sale and minutes the Diego management team at the time told us that they didn’t have any information as the agreement was made only between the owners of the two companies,” said Dereje.
As Dereje pointed out, the federation has been trying to find these documents from the authority but has failed to obtain it as the two companies did not submit the sale agreement and documents to the authority.
Girmachew Mandefro, chairman of the trade union of Meta which has about 340 members from the total of 500 employees informed Capital that the management teams of Meta from Diageo has left the company without giving clear information about the new owners and their agenda for its employees.
As he explains, the employees have not received any information whatsoever on the matter. “Both Diageo and BGI Ethiopia have stayed silent after making agreement on the acquisitions of the company,” Girmachew stated, adding, “we have concerns about our future, on whether they are going to let us continue our job or make us leave.”
However BGI refuted the allegation. Gebre Selassie Sifer, Commercial PR Manager of BGI in a written response to Capital said, “the statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. BGI Ethiopia has submitted all the necessary documents on time and in full to the Trade Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (TCCPA) and it is now waiting for the necessary approvals to commence the takeover process. TCCPA and all involved government stakeholders have been exceptionally supportive and speedy in their support. It is our firm belief that we will be granted with the necessary approval once the review process is complete.”
The statement further reads, “BGI Ethiopia remains committed to the process and hasn’t been and will not be involved in the operation of Meta Abo Brewery until all the proper approvals are secured. Meanwhile, BGI is working on plans to channel its expertise and experience to keep and rejuvenate the brand Meta and rekindle the passion of the staff at Meta.”
Recently, BGI Ethiopia which has plans to rejuvenate the brand, in its statement sent to Capital disclosed that after having concluded the agreement to procure Meta Abo Brewery S.C. from Diageo, BGI Ethiopia is now waiting for the approval of the ETCCPA.
According to the Trade Competition and Consumers Protection Proclamation No. 813/2013, no agreement or arrangement of merger may come into effect before obtaining approval from the Authority pursuant to Article 11 of this Proclamation.
To this end, the federation requested the two companies to give clear information on the matter and to decide the future of employees.
The brewery which is based out of Sebeta, Oromia region has about 3.7 billion birr in government tax debt starting from 2017.
Diageo thus entered into an agreement for the sale of Meta Abo Brewery, to BGI, which is part of the Castel Group. The sale was subject to approval by the conditions of ETCCPA with everything set to completion by early 2022; however this has faced a slight delay.
Following the acquisition, Meta Abo joins BGI’s other five breweries i.e., St. George Brewery in Addis Ababa, Kombolcha Brewery, Hawassa Brewery, Zebidar Brewery and Maychew Northern Brewery with a combined production capacity of 3.6 million Hectoliters of beer annually.