Beer workers join Coke strike

2010-01-27 10:39

Johannesburg - Workers at the beer division of brewer SAB [JSE:SAB] will be joining the striking ABI Coke workers in a protest march on Wednesday, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said in a statement.

The march is scheduled to leave Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg at 11:00 and will proceed to the offices of SABMiller in Braamfontein.

Fawu said in a statement that the purpose of the march is to hand over a memorandum to SABMiller CEO Graham McKay, calling on him to intervene in the strike "by insisting that its South African subsidiary meet the reasonable and noble demands of our members at ABI".

Fawu said failure to do so will lead to members of Fawu in the beer division embarking on an "indefinite full-blown strike action in support of ABI workers and that workers in operations of SABMiller the world over will embark in solidarity support actions".

The union said: "We hope to be addressed by the general secretary of Cosatu, Mr Zwelinzima Vavi, at 13:00."

Meanwhile, Fawu added, workers will continue to be on strike and will continue with daily picketing and other demonstrations next to ABI premises, particularly at the four manufacturing plants in Midrand, Pretoria West, Develand in Gauteng and Phoenix in Durban.

Violence and criminal acts

ABI, the soft drinks division of SAB, on Tuesday showed the media photographic evidence of the violence and criminal acts that have characterised the strike under way at some ABI depots.

There has been a total of 241 incidents of violence and criminal acts since the start of the strike, according to the bottling company. These include the stoning and petrol bombing of ABI delivery vehicles, threats of harm to employees and family, abductions, shootings, attempted murder, assault and acts of public violence.

There have been seven arrests by the South African Police Services (Saps) on charges of, among others, intimidation and kidnapping.

ABI has sent evidence of violent and criminal acts to Fawu on several occasions, and last week invited Fawu and its lawyers to meet to share the company's evidence, but Fawu declined.

About 1 100 Fawu members are currently on strike, less than a third of ABI's 3 800-strong workforce. The company's strong contingency plan has ensured that operations are continuing uninterrupted. All manufacturing plants are operating and deliveries are taking place as normal.

- I-Net Bridge