Clover warns of milk supply ‘hiccups’

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File picture - Clover products on the shelf in a Johannesburg supermarket.

Johanneburg - A strike at Clover by Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) members may cause “hiccups” in the dairy company's milk supply, it said on Friday.

“As long as the union members act legally we will be able to collect (and) process the milk and have it distributed. But... through a supply chain point of view there will be hiccups,” said Clover deputy CEO Manie Roode.

Fawu members at Clover started striking three days ago, over the size of a wage increase and benefits.

Union spokeswoman Dominique Swartz said in a statement that workers were demanding an 11 percent wage increase; a housing allowance of R200; and, a R200 fee for handling products other than Clover's.

Roode said the company was sticking fast to its offer of 8.5 percent, and was not going to offer a housing allowance.

“We believe that 8.5 percent is more than fair,” he said.

“We are not prepared to enter into a debate on housing allowances. We are focused on wage increases.”

The company had also agreed to raise the minimum wage at the company to R360 a day, an increase of about 10.5 percent.

Roode said the company was also sticking to its existing contribution of 50 percent for medical aid.

Swartz said Fawu wanted the employer's medical aid contribution raised to 75 percent.

“Workers reason that since they work in the food industry, their health should be in top condition, and it is just not possible to get the highest medical care with the low wages they are earning,” he said.

Fawu represents about 3 400 workers at Clover, about 56 percent of the company's total work force. The strike is a national labour action, but has hit some factories harder than others.

Roode said the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northwest had not been affected by the strike. The Western Cape had seen strike action, but operations had not been affected.

“Basically, the focus area right now is Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

Roode described the strike as “peaceful”, but added that the company had sought a Labour Court interdict against Fawu members.

He said some union members at the company's Clayville factory in Gauteng had broken picketing rules by blockading the entrance, damaging property and threatening Clover employees who were not striking.

Roode said some strikers had thrown stones at management members. - Sapa


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