Johannesburg - Claims that Astral Foods is not prepared to
negotiate with striking poultry workers in County Fair's farming division are
unfounded, the company said on Wednesday.
"Our doors are open, but the union has not contacted us
since the strike began on Monday last week," said Theo Delport, managing
director of Astral's poultry division.
Last Monday 635 workers, out of 1 000 in the County Fair
farming division, embarked on an illegal strike, which became a protected
strike at lunchtime last Wednesday.
The workers want R1 500 per week, which they believe will
close the wage gap between them and similar industries in the area. They claim
to earn R499 a week after deductions.
Delport said the strike came at a difficult time for the
"What we are trying to do is retain people's jobs. We
don't want to look at staff cuts. Senior management have also had a salary
Operations were running as normal, with the help of outside
Delport claimed that Astral would "never
compromise" on the welfare of the chickens it raised for slaughter.
On Tuesday, Food and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson
Mlungiseleli Ndongeni said the company had indicated that it was not prepared
On Monday, workers held a picket outside the company's
offices in Muldersvlei in an attempt to persuade local management to enter into
wage talks, but security guards fired at them with paintball guns.
Delport confirmed the incident, but dismissed it as a
"minimal force" response to stone throwing and intimidatory tactics
by the striking workers.
The decision to use paintball guns had been the security
company's, and not Astral's, he said.