Lucky Strike cigarettes are seen during the manufacturing process in a BAT cigarette factory. File picture: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
Lucky Strike cigarettes are seen during the manufacturing process in a BAT cigarette factory. File picture: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

#NotJustAJob campaign highlights threat illicit cigarette trade poses to SA jobs

By Lou-Anne Daniels Time of article published Aug 12, 2018

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Trade union Fawu has embarked on a campaign to highlight the plight of South African workers who face losing their jobs to the ballooning illegal cigarette trade. Using the hashtag #NotJustAJob, Fawu's tweets recount the personal stories of individuals employed in the South African tobacco industry who say their jobs are being threatened by cheap, illegally imported cigarettes. 

These illegal imports are not subject to government's 'sin tax' and therefore are sold on the streets for as little as R10 a packet, whereas legal, taxed cigarettes are priced from around R25 upwards. 

Added to that, Parliament is mulling new legislation which seeks to ban advertising of tobacco products completely, as well as criminalise smoking in public. The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, published by the Department of Health in May for comment, seeks to ban the display of all tobacco products and cigarettes. If the bill is passed, a three-month prison sentence could be imposed for smoking in public and restaurants would have to remove their smoking areas.

Local cigarette manufacturers warned that the illicit cigarette trade, high taxes and the proposed new legislation could result in huge cutbacks in labour. Fawu says the potential 11 000 jobs which stand to be lost will destroy communities.

The 11 000 potential job losses will cripple entire communities. It's time to get @SARSTAX and @TreasuryRSA to see it's #IllicitTobaccoSA #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/E6TLl9gMIu

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“Being at this factory for more than 20 years, I’ve seen many fellow employees being retrenched and I’m scared I might be next.” - Phillip Palmer #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/YEwbAp97iC

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“I moved from the factory in Paarl to the one in Heidelberg, with two kids who are both 12 years old, if I get retrenched I don’t know how I’ll take care of them.” - Jonathan Lawrence #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/GcxRCHWBa2

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“With the job I have, I am able to take care of 6 of my family members.” - Dudu Masando #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/4m3JsFcwHv

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“I’ve been working at this factory for 35 years, supporting my 3 kids and 2 grandchildren.” - Mandla Mpostoli Mnguni #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/IiHwHg93Nx

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“I don’t know what I’ll do if my house gets repossessed because my family of four will suffer, so much” - Mahlomola Mokoena #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/MfAWIZqqgZ

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“For 22 years, I’ve been able to take care of my family and have 4 kids, the thought of unemployment scares me.” - Peter Mtshali #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/CQTEopUxua

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“Our factory cannot compete with the rise of illicit cigarettes, so with the downsizing of staff, I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose my job, more especially because I’m a bread winner” - Tobias de Swardt #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/cYzg5kEh38

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“I have a house, a car, my mother and step dad to provide for with my job, lord knows what will happen if I lose this job.” - Wendy Marias #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/O6xz6UB8st

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

“With this job I can afford to take my kids to school and help out in my community, if I get retrenched not only will my kids starve but their future will too.” - Mavusa Miya #NotJustAJob pic.twitter.com/IZb04WVVz6

— FAWU Media (@fawu_media) August 12, 2018

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