Independent Online

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Unions enraged by Clover’s ’low’ 13th cheques payouts

A probe is under way following a Clover truck that was set alight in the Durban central business district last week. Although Clover said they suspected the incident was related to the strike, they could not confirm anything until an investigation was completed. Photographer: Theodore Jeptha

A probe is under way following a Clover truck that was set alight in the Durban central business district last week. Although Clover said they suspected the incident was related to the strike, they could not confirm anything until an investigation was completed. Photographer: Theodore Jeptha

Published Jan 17, 2022

Share

WHILE some Clover employees started receiving their annual bonuses after a recent court victory against the country’s largest dairy manufacturer, the unions representing workers were disappointed with some of the payouts.

Story continues below Advertisement

Mametlwe Sebei, president of the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa) said they were angered by some of the payouts, one of which was as little as R59,52.

“We are disgusted by the attitude of Clover. They have shown complete disregard for the rights of our members and the law, which reflect their colonial outlook,” Sebei said.

The 13th cheque payments were due for payout on Friday, as per the ruling made by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Monday, based on action taken by the respective worker unions.

Story continues below Advertisement

Prince Ngoate, and Eric Sishi, both Clover shop stewards based in Gauteng and KZN, respectively, also confirmed to the Sunday Tribune that they had not received their bonus payout on Friday.

“We were traumatised when we did not receive our13th cheque. Our monthly income is not enough, and the cost of living in South Africa is high. We have families to feed and with schools re-opening soon, there just isn't enough money,” said Ngoate.

Cynthia Joyce of the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said they would be taking Clover back to the CCMA following the inadequate payout amounts.

Story continues below Advertisement

“We will not tolerate it. Our members again have been provoked by the company,” said Joyce.

Sebei said they have made calls for the government to expropriate and nationalise the company.

That desire has been relayed to Ebrahim Patel, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, where the unions recently called for an urgent meeting to discuss the possible nationalising of Clover.

Story continues below Advertisement

He complained that ever since Clover merged with Milco (an Israeli company, in 2019) they have disregarded South African law and regulatory authorities, including the terms and conditions of the merger, and now, the ruling of the CCMA regarding their members’ bonuses.

Clover has been plagued by nearly two months of strike action. Workers across the country downed tools over the company’s recent restructuring, wage cuts and retrenchments.

“Clover failed its employees by not abiding by the merger conditions. One of which was to create about 500 jobs. Instead, 2 000 workers have lost their jobs,” said Sebei.

“There was an agreement that there will not be any job losses for three years following the merger. The company wants to impose a wage cut of 20 percent following the closing of a Western Cape factory. Three more factories, including one in the Free State, another in North West and the last in Gauteng, are also under threat,” he said.

Sebei said that the company had no regard for its employees, since they were also planning to move operations to coastal areas.

He contended that such moves would cause relocating workers to spend nearly half of their earnings on rent and travelling expenses.

He claimed that the working conditions have reportedly changed for the worse as new employees would have to work on Sundays and holidays, a shift from a five-day working week to a six-day working week and 12-hour shifts, among many others.

Sebei said the unions and other stakeholders met with the Deputy Director-General: Corporate Management in the office of the President, on Thursday.Their discussions pertained to how the government could assist.

“We agreed that within seven days, the government will ask the relevant ministries to intervene in the Clover situation, and organise a table meeting of all parties, including Clover management, to discuss the way forward,” said Sebei.

Clover released in a media statement earlier this month, regarding their actions which led to the strike action that began on November 22.

They maintained their reforms were not taken lightly but were necessary to enhance the company’s resilience, especially following the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Clover Proprietary Limited has been subject to a difficult trading cycle for several years, where economic growth has been poor, costs have generally been rising above inflation and consumer spending has been subdued.

“For these reasons, a comprehensive strategic review of all aspects of Clover’s business was undertaken,which led to the difficult decision to restructure. Unfortunately, as part of this restructure and as a matter of last resort, a Section 189 consultation process was implemented,” read the statement.

Recently, Giwusa and Fawu released a statement that condemned the alleged petrol bombing of some of their members and shop stewards’ cars in Gauteng.

"On the night of Friday, January 7, a striking worker's car was petrol bombed. On the night of Saturday, January 8, another striking worker's car was petrol bombed. On the night of Sunday, 9 January, five carloads of men visited two striking workers and demanded that they end the strike. Also, on the night of Sunday, January 9, another three striking workers received threatening phone calls at 11.45pm demanding that they end the strike," read the statement.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE

Related Topics:

KwaZulu-Natal

Share