Meat inspectors on strike

By Drum Digital
12 March 2013

Meat inspectors are on a legal strike over a pay dispute, International Meat Quality Assurance Services (IMQAS) said on Tuesday.

"They belong to a union, Cawusa (Congregated and Allied Workers' Union of SA), and that union is out on legal strike and we are currently in negotiations with them," said IMQAS general manager Louis Visagie.

"We have about 25 people in front of our offices [on Tuesday] picketing and blowing vuvuzelas."

Visagie said it was illegal for an abattoir to slaughter without an inspector. The strike began on Monday.

"We are working with government to ensure that no meat will go to market or will be slaughtered that has not been inspected," he said.

"Both industry and government will not allow unsafe meat to end up in the supply chain."

He said 30 percent of IMQAS' workers were members of Cawusa, but that not all of them were on strike.

Salaries were the main issue, and with the industry located all over the country it was difficult for IMQAS, as an industry organisation, to talk to the industry collectively. It was having to negotiate individually.

"We have asked the union, so we can confer with our clients, so we can return with a mandate, and we can have an amicable solution," Visagie said.

The Sowetan newspaper reported on Tuesday that Cawusa general secretary Thomas Nkeane had said workers reached deadlock with the company in October when they were demanding a 15 percent salary hike.

The matter was referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration. IMQAS asked for a postponement to November.

"We had another meeting in December, where they told us they were going to talk to the abattoirs in order to come up with an offer," Nkeane told the newspaper.

"We were surprised when our members received increases in January. Some members received two percent and others six percent. The company decided on the increases without our knowledge, and our members are not happy."

IMQAS board member Dr Langa Simela, who received a memorandum from the union on Monday, told the newspaper measures had been put in place to ensure that the distribution of meat continued.

-by Sapa

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