North West DairyBelle workers to march

Jan 14 2013 16:35

Cosatu says they are mobilizing to intensify the DairyBelle strike, which will be linked with solidarity support of farmworkers in the Western Cape. Striking farmworkers. (Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Striking North West DairyBelle workers would march in support of better wages this week, the provincial branch of the Congress of SA Trade Unions said on Monday.

"The strike has now entered the second month and the employer is not moving on the demands of the workers," provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said.

The strike, which started early in December, was suspended over the recent holidays and would resume on Wednesday.
Phetoe would address the workers on Tuesday at the DairyBelle Factory in Bloemhof at 8:00 to start the intensification of the strike.

On Wednesday, workers would march from Boitumelong informal settlement outside Bloemhof to the factory at 9:00.

On Thursday, workers would take buses from Bloemhof to the DairyBelle head office in Pretoria at 7:00.

On both days, memorandums detailing workers' demands would be handed over to management.

On Friday, striking workers along with other Food and Allied Workers' Union members would gather at the head office again.
Phetoe said before the strike workers demanded a R1300 increase across the board but later lowered it to R900 and then R800.

He said DairyBelle offered a 3% increase, which amounted to R266.

"The workers will agree on no less than R800.

"Cosatu calls on the employers to come to their senses before the situation gets out of hand and accede to the workers' demands," Phetoe said.

DairyBelle spokesman Gerrit Oosthuizen would not go into details about the company's wage offer but denied it only offered a 3% increase.

"No, it's rubbish. The monetary value was in excess of 6%."

He said the wage negotiations reached a deadlock at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) at the end of November on the back of a wage demand of 18%.

"Now we believe it is irresponsible to go on a strike with that kind of a demand."

He said from the day the strike started the roads leading to the factory have been barricaded, the company and company vehicles have been attacked with stones and petrol bombs.

Three people were injured, a vehicle damaged, and a storeroom destroyed amounting to damages between R5m and R10m.

On December 31, police arrested 11 people and confiscated 21 of these petrol bombs, Oosthuizen said.

"The ultimate action that you can take is to withhold labour. There is no right to engage in acts of violence to support your demands."

He said the company wanted to continue negotiations and approached the CCMA again on Friday.

"We are trying our utmost to get the union to the table... so that we reach a fair settlement and also to protect our company against the violence."


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strikes  |  agribusiness  |  dairy



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