SOUTH AFRICA – In a rare show of solidarity between business and labour, management of some of the country’s biggest poultry producers are set to swap their offices for the streets and join the Food and Allied Workers Union’s (Fawu’s) three-city mass rolling action.
In an unprecedented move, the management of Astral Foods, RCL Foods and Country Bird Holdings will also march with their workers.
The producers say the industry is in distress as a result of cheap poultry from Europe and the US flooding South African shores. They say there are no mechanism in place to protect an industry in decline.
Fawu is planning rolling mass action in Tshwane on Thursday and in Pietermaritzburg (Tuesday, November 29) and Cape Town (Wednesday, November 30).
On Thursday, the union will be joined by the three companies’ management and staff when it marches on the EU Commission offices in Tshwane.
In Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town the provincial legislature and Parliament will be the target destinations respectively.
Country Bird CEO Marthinus Stander on Wednesday said a high volume of imports, predominantly from the EU, had led to job losses in the local poultry industry.
“Protection for our local industry is limited, with no barriers to entry applicable to the EU as a result of a bilateral free trade agreement,” said Stander.
He claimed “this is creating jobs abroad, while shedding jobs in SA”.
RCL Foods has already announced plans to cut 1,200 jobs, which Stander described as “alarming”.
However, Stander warned that “most major producers have more cutbacks to come, which will result in as many as 12,000 direct and indirect job losses, to add to the thousands lost so far”.
“At least 12 businesses have gone out of production in the last few years, and at least three more are in serious trouble,” he said.