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Pretoria - Meat inspectors who on Monday downed tools have raised concerns about the quality of meat that will be distributed to butcheries over the next few days.
The shortage of meat inspectors, examiners, graders and classifiers could raise serious hazards regarding the meat that is distributed to butcheries from abattoirs, they claim.
The inspectors, who have been joined by meat examiners, classifiers and graders in their strike action, say they will not work at any abattoir until their 15 percent wage hike demand has been met.
This will force their employer, the International Meat Quality Assurance Services (Imqas), to deploy alternative staff at various abattoirs across the country.
Imqas board member Dr Langa Simela said they had put alternative measures in place to ensure that meat inspections would continue at abattoirs, but did not specify what these were.
She told staff protesting at the Imqas offices in Lynnwood that the board would study the memorandum handed in on Monday and decide on the way forward. “We thank you for coming to us and making your voice heard. We will discuss the memorandum with the rest of the board and decide on the way forward,” said Simela.
The workers, who are represented by the Congregated and Allied Workers Union of SA (Cawusa), have accused Imqas of negotiating in bad faith and unilaterally implementing increases that were not agreed to with the union.
Cawusa general secretary Thomas Nkeane, said they were shocked that increases were implemented while they were under the impression that negotiations were ongoing. “Most of the workers were surprised to see salary adjustments of between 2 percent and 6 percent in their January payslips, which was never agreed with the union.
“Imqas told us they needed more time to negotiate with individual abattoirs about our demands, but instead they went ahead and implemented the increases. “They have been negotiating in bad faith and the workers are not happy about this. We have downed tools and more workers are joining the strike. This will certainly affect the quality and safety of the meat that is distributed to butcheries and various meat suppliers,” said Nkeane.
According to Nkeane, the union represented more than 200 inspectors at about 150 abattoirs around the country, and were expecting the rest of the workers to join the strike over the next few days. About 400 inspectors are employed by Imqas.