Call for trade barriers

2016-12-07 10:12
Hundreds of Food Allied Workers’ Union members marching down Langalibalele Street to demand an end to the EU’s ‘dumping’ of chicken in South Africa.

Hundreds of Food Allied Workers’ Union members marching down Langalibalele Street to demand an end to the EU’s ‘dumping’ of chicken in South Africa. (Sabelo Nsele)

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Thousands of workers from the poultry industry are set to lose their jobs in January.

According to Food Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) general secretary Katishi Masemola, 1 300 workers from KZN’s iconic chicken producer Rainbow Chickens will be retrenched next year.

Masemola said two other large chicken producers were considering retrenching staff too.

Feathers flew on Tuesday as hundreds of workers marched to the provincial legislature to demand an end to “EU chickens dumping” which they said was responsible for the job loses in the sector.

Masemola said the situation had reached crisis stage, saying there was not the luxury of time in this matter. He demanded action be taken.

“One job loss is too many in a country which is about to clock a 40% unemployment rate. It cannot be right that our government is moving with low speed when fire is ravaging. We need to move with the greatest speed and convene a meeting on how to arrest the situation.

“Let us close ranks. Let us protect food security, food sovereignty and let us protect jobs,” he said.

Masemola said there was one poultry company that was losing R1 million a day due to the “dumping” of chickens from the EU on SA markets.

“And if we were to enter the EU market on fair ground, we will create 30 000 to 50 000 jobs,” he said.

Masemola gave the provincial Department of Economic Development and the provincial cabinet two days to respond to the demands and said the union will continue to roll out mass action should they get no joy.

Managing director of Rainbow Chicken, Scott Pitman who wore a red T-shirt and joined the protesters in the march, described yesterday as a sad day.

He urged government to intervene, saying something can be done to prevent the job losses.

“I say to you, government, there are solutions, we can fix it tomorrow. All we have to do is what other countries are doing to us — and that is to put in some tactical barriers,” he said.

The premier’s special adviser, Linda Zama, said she will express the “urgency” that needs to be given to the memorandum by the provincial government.

“These grievances are not unreasonable at all,” she said.

Economic Development MEC Sihle Zikalala said the department had formed a task team to look into the matter. “We are aware of the challenges faced by the poultry industry in our province and in the country, in general. In this regard, we have made a decisive intervention by appointing a task team which is working with all the industry players, including labour, to find a lasting solution to this challenge. While this is a complex matter owing to the interconnectedness of the South African economy to the global economy, we believe that it is in our interest to work together to find a solution,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protests

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