Abattoir workers on strike

2008-07-21 00:00

Employees at one of KwaZulu-Natal’s biggest abattoirs went on strike yesterday, forcing production to a standstill.

The workers were sent home and locked out of the company premises at the Triple A Beef abattoir outside Pietermaritzburg following contractual disagreements.

The entire staff at the abattoir downed tools after management allegedly tried to force some employees to sign a contract against their will.

The union had requested a copy of the contract before it could be signed. “We asked for a copy of the contract for our perusal, but yesterday morning the company tried to force the workers to sign and when they refused they were dismissed,” said Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) representative Mafanalo Dladla.

Initially, about 50 employees were dismissed for refusing to sign the contract.

Triple A Beef director Shaun Caine said production was stopped. “Employees engaged in an illegal industrial strike and we had to vacate them from our premises and production was stopped.”

Caine could not provide details on the expulsion of the employees, referring The Witness to company consultants Nasmisa.

Nasmisa spokeswoman Veronica du Plessis said employees failed to follow procedure over their grievances. “So it is not easy to say why they started protesting.”

According to Du Plessis, a disciplinary inquiry for holding back production had been scheduled with some employees, but they refused to co-operate.

Dladla said the union will meet with management today to discuss the contents of the contracts and later deliver a report to workers. The Witness was informed that workers were unhappy with a number of issues in the contract, including pay increases. Workers will hold a protest outside the company premises tomorrow.

National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation group managing director Agrey Mahanjana said the strike will have both negative and positive effects on the industry.

“The strike might not have a negative impact on traders, but it could have a positive outcome for other abattoirs because they will have to provide more meat.”

He said traders who have special deals with Triple A Beef are the ones that may feel the pinch.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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