SAB strike going nowhere quickly

2013-11-03 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) is finding itself in an untenable situation. Its month-long strike at SA Breweries (SAB) has failed to force an improved offer?–?or even a meeting with management.

At the same time, SAB has obtained three interdicts against the union and its members while denouncing an alleged 72 incidents of violence or intimidation.

On Wednesday night, a non-striker’s house was petrol-bombed, marking an escalation of violence, says the brewer.

“We are keeping a list, which is currently with our investigators, and some of the cases are with the police,” says SAB spokesperson Robyn Chalmers.

On Friday, Fawu lashed out at “unfounded allegations”, but stopped short of an outright denial that the alleged violence was mostly against non-strikers at their homes.

“We’re not going to vehemently deny it, but we are asking for proof,” says Katishi Masemola, general secretary of the union.

“We really don’t have knowledge or proof of these incidents.”

SAB now says: “There is a campaign of violence being waged by a minority of union members against the company and its employees, which the union seems unable to stop.”

The parties have not met formally since October 16 and even that meeting was not really a bargaining session, says Masemola.

Chalmers says: “The last actual official negotiation meeting was ahead of the strike on Friday, September 27.”

With no negotiations taking place, the strike has dragged on past the important one-month point, meaning that everyone involved has missed a pay cheque.

However, SAB has drawn a line in the sand. It announced on Friday that it was willing to meet Fawu this week, but only to negotiate the return to work and not the wage offer.

The final offer made before the strike remains the only offer on the table and, ironically, Fawu does not see it as too low.

The drawn-out strike is mostly due to SAB being unwilling to negotiate the principle of performance-linked increases that discriminate between employees, says Masemola.

This year, that system gave most of the 2?800 workers in the bargaining unit a 7% increase.

According to the company, only 217 employees will receive less than 7% due to the performance-linked system, while another 865 will get between 0.5 and two extra percentage points.

Masemola said on Friday: “Seven percent could be a settlement?–?if it comes without the performance component.”

This is underscored by Fawu signing a 7% wage deal in another SAB department, the hops farm division, this week.

It is just the principle that is being fought against. Even though it has a small effect this year, it may be different in future, says Masemola.

According to SAB, the strike involves slightly more than 800 people, less than one-third of the bargaining unit.

More importantly, the brewer is adamant that the absence of 30% of the unit’s workers for a whole month has had very little practical effect on its production.

Temporary replacement labour and an internal contingency programme that moves employees from offices to the factory floor are helping to mitigate the impact.

But says Fawu: “Despite the company’s constant denialism, we know they are deeply affected by the absence of the majority of skilled and experienced staff.

“It is our understanding that casuals from hired labour-brokering services are currently amateurishly attempting to brew beer.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.