Clover gets interdict to stop striking union violence and incitement

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  • Clover said the Labour Court granted the company an interdict against intimidation, damage to property and incitement of violence.
  • Clover said the Covid-19 pandemic forced the company to cut jobs and that this was not the plan from the onset of its merger with Milco.
  • The ongoing strike has been supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

The Labour Court in Johannesburg has granted Clover an interdict against striking unions at its operations – the second in relation to the strike since it started.

Unions have been interdicted from intimidating non-striking workers, damaging company property, or inciting violent behaviour using social media platforms.

In November, Clover was granted an interdict against the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa) and its members, after Clover accused them of destroying and looting company property.

Clover said it obtained a further court interdict that orders Giwusa and the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) to publicly denounce all forms of violence and intimidation against any non-striking workers and third parties, including any damage to property.

"The unions are further required to remove all communication on their social media pages encouraging this type of behaviour. The right to strike is constitutionally protected but this kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable," said Clover spokesperson Steven Velthuysen.

The latest interdict follows an incident that resulted in the death of a Fidelity security guard, which Clover pinned on striking union members.

Giwusa and FAWU have got the support of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) as well as the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) in the strike, which is calling for the reversal of retrenchments following Clover's merger with Milco.

Velthuysen said the Covid-19 pandemic forced the company to cut jobs and that this was not the plan from the onset of its merger with the Tel-Aviv-based Central Bottling Company's Milco.

But unions have asked the Competition Commission to look into this, as job creation was a condition for the merger.

"We embarked on restructuring as a last resort. Our business was materially affected by Covid-19 and we had little if any choice in the decision we made, which was not made lightly. We cannot and will not reverse our decision if we are to run an economically viable business," Velthuysen said.

Giwusa and Fawu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the interdict. Giwusa has previously maintained that the strike has been peaceful and consistent with the picketing rules outlined by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration.

According to Clover the striking unions represent 48% to 49% of the total workforce of the company in South Africa.

Saftu organised a rally in support of the strike last weekend in Johannesburg. The federation called on working class organisations to support the strike and to support calls to boycott Clover.

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