DURBAN - Employees and unions are pushing back at Clover despite the company’s warning to staff after they were interdicted from protesting. Staff also refused to sign the acceptance letter for salary cuts.
The General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa), Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu), African Meat Industry and Allied Union, Solidarity Union, and non-unionised employees are currently engaged in a mass strike in protest of the company reducing salaries by 20% and retrenching workers.
Fawu’s national chairperson at Clover, Raymond Pogiso Dithato, told the Daily News on Thursday that his union had instructed workers not to sign any document agreeing to salary cuts.
“We will intensify and urge everyone affected by these austerity measures and propose that they join us in the streets in solidarity with all the workers. We must use the voice of labour industrial action to push back. We cannot be seen as a cost to a company, we must be treated equally as stakeholders that are contributing towards Clover’s growth.
“The CEO and his team must stop threatening and bullying workers to sign. We will not go back until they remove all the austerity measures. The employer must show us what they achieved through all the restructuring that has taken place before,” he said.
Dithato said that the workers must never accept the wage reduction because this will impact their families negatively.
On Wednesday, Clover chief executive Johann Vorster wrote a letter to all the workers informing them that the company was forced to react to threatening circumstances by restructuring the business and implementing changes to address aspects that will improve operational efficiencies.
“Due to the current industrial action taking place, the company has come under further financial pressures as a result of the disruption to its supply chain. We have put contingencies in place to limit the impact of the industrial action on our operations, but a prolonged strike will, however, result in unavoidable disruptions to supply as the festive season is a traditionally high-demand period and may lead to further cost-cutting measures.
“As a gesture of good faith, the company will pay the annual bonus (13th cheque) to all those qualifying employees who have continued to work during the industrial action to November 30, 2021. These employees are positively contributing towards maintaining volume supply to the market and ensuring that the Company limits its losses during this trying time. All other employees will not receive any bonus payments at this stage,” Vorster said in the letter.
Contacted for comment, Clover’s account director Louise Fortuin said the reduced salaries was one of a number of measures that the business was taking to bring costs in line with the lower level of market activity and to ensure business sustainability.
“The reduction in salary aims is to bring the salaries more in line with the average market median and after the adjustment will still be 20% above the average market median. In addition, Clover has offered to pay out a lump sum equal to six times the differential in salary to each affected employee to give them a six month period to adjust to the lower salary.”
Fortuin said the company had to resort to a court interdict as there were acts of violence, intimidation, and destruction of property.
To comment on this story send a WhatsApp message to our BackChat column on 071 485 7995.