For the past three weeks, angry residents have gathered at the entrance of Unilever’s offices at Riverhorse Valley Business Estate.
Community representative Stoffel Diedericks yesterday told the Daily News: “The issue is that they made a promise to provide jobs and said they would employ local labour but that has not happened for six years. The community decided they had had enough,” Diedericks said.
He said the community went to Unilever and that was when Unilever closed their gates.
“We handed them a memorandum with our grievances on October 25. We want jobs and skills development among other things,” he said.
Community representatives and Unilever yesterday met to address their concerns, but the community felt they were being “thrown under the bus”.
Diedericks said Unilever told them they could not offer any jobs.
“They want applicants to have a matric with maths and science, so basically there is no work for us,” he said.
He said they would not leave until their demands were met.
Twenty-nine-year-old Emmanuel Parsons said he had not had a stable job for five years “My dad is the only one working and I am unable to provide for my family because there is a lack of jobs at Riverhorse.
“I need to be employed by Unilever. I am not standing here for nothing. I want them to employ me today and not tomorrow,” he said.
Shobna Persadh, Unilever’s Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Business Director, said community representatives left a meeting where the memorandum was discussed.
“Unilever is wholly committed to working with the community for a resolution but expected jobs growth has not occurred and the factory is running under capacity,” Persadh said.
She said the priority on opening the factory was first to ensure existing employees kept working to avoid retrenchment, with an expectation of further job creation to support the community. “This remains our intention and Unilever South Africa will give priority to members of the Newlands community and ask service providers to consider employing members of the community wherever possible.”