File picture: Steve Johnson

Johannesburg - The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) on Wednesday vowed to proceed with rolling mass protest action against the imminent “Sugar Tax” and the so-called dumping of chicken from the European Union (EU).

The government has announced plans to introduce a one percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages from next year in a bid to curb lifestyle and non-communicable diseases.

However, Fawu said its own research had shown that there would be job losses emanating from “sugar tax” and that there was no evidence to suggest that those lost jobs would be created elsewhere in the industry.

Fawu, which this week marched to National Treasury offices in Pretoria where members handed in their memorandum of their concerns about the sugar tax, said two more marches would be held on Wednesday in Cape Town and Durban respectively.

Read also: What happens to jobs if sugar tax is passed?

In a statement, Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said apart from concerns about possible job cuts linked to the sugar tax, the union said it was also determined to prevent job losses in the poultry and manufacturing industries.

Katishi said Fawu supported a quest for a healthy nation and wants an obesity-free population, but it did not believe that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverage products would be a mechanism to achieve the intended health objectives.

“As Fawu we are determined to continue fighting for jobs retention and against job losses in sugar value-chain and poultry sector and anywhere else in the economy as it will continue fighting against poverty and inequality in this country,” Katishi said.

“One job loss is too many in a country where four out of 10 people able to work are unemployed, and in which poverty is so persistent as if we do not have 70 percent of world's platinum and income inequality being the widest on earth.”

On Tuesday, Fawu led a delegation to meet with the EU Commission's ambassador and trade counsellor following a protest march and memo of petition on job losses to the EU Embassy in Pretoria last week.

Katishi said the union would “not moan” but would “fight and hope to win in these campaigns and for the benefit of our country and the working class”.