Cape Town - Worker at the Airport Industria, affiliated with Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) have joined an indefinite national strike triggered by a planned mass retrenchment, factory closures and salary cuts at Clover.
The dairy company’s workers downed tools on Monday demanding, among others, an end to the one truck assistant and compressed working hours. The unions called for an end to an attack on their members and the nationalisation of Clover.
Fawu national president Mammetlwe Sebei said the dairy company had been carrying out a programme of brutal restructuring.
“The company planned to retrench an overall of 1 449 workers and some through voluntary severance packages which we must say, there is nothing voluntary about it.
“Others have have been scheduled to be retrenched in the course of closure of factories. We already have a lot of factories that have been closed, including in Parow and others in other areas will follow in January,” he said.
Sebei said the company’s imposition of a compressed working week would intensify exploitation and effectively increase working hours.
“We are saying that workers must get a decent annual wage increase because we refuse to pay costs for restructuring that have nothing to with the workers,” he said.
Giwusa shop steward Thembela Mendelo said while the company was experiencing financial constraints annual bonuses were offered to those that snubbed the strike.
“We cannot work under these proposed working environment which equates to slavery. When we started out working for low salaries we were told there was overtime that will boost these salaries, but now this has now become too much for them,” said Mendelo.
Clover said the decision to restructure was not arrived at lightly but followed a comprehensive strategic review of all aspects of the business. It said the business had been subject to a difficult trading cycle for a number of years, where costs have been rising above inflation and consumer spending had been negatively impacted by poor economic growth and increasing unemployment.
“Covid-19 has added to these pressures and created much uncertainty, specifically around the economic outlook,” the diary company said.
Clover said while it respected the right of employees to strike in a peaceful and legal manner it was looking forward to a timeous resolution. It said further discussions would be considered in context of the business’ financial position and long-term sustainability benefiting all stakeholders.