The South African Breweries (SAB) has called on the leadership of the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) to call off its strike after a recurrence of violence last night, including a case of attempted murder and arson in Gauteng.
Since the start of the strike, there have been more than 72 incidents of violence and intimidation. These have included burning employees cars, firebombing employees houses and malicious damage to property as well as anonymous intimidatory calls to working employees and their families.
SAB MD Mauricio Leyva said today that only a minority of FAWU members had supported the strike since it first started almost five weeks ago.
“Fewer than 27% of the bargaining unit members are on strike and it has become violent precisely because only a minority of workers in a couple of sites in Gauteng are supporting it. The majority of our employees have spoken but FAWU is only listening to the minority out on strike. We call on FAWU leadership to halt the strike and respect the will of their members, ” he said.
Leyva today visited the family of the latest victim of violence in Vosloorus. The house of one of FAWU’s shop stewards who has continued working at SAB’s Alrode Brewery during the strike was firebombed while he and members of his family were still in the house. His wife and 11 year old son were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. The son is expected to be released from hospital this evening and the wife tomorrow morning.
“As SAB we are deeply disturbed by the level of violence and the criminal acts we have seen. We have further heightened security to protect our employees, their family and their property. We respect the right of people to strike and ask FAWU members to respect the right of people to continue working.”
SAB has been to the Labour Court three times since the start of the strike on 30 September 2013 in an attempt to halt the violence. This week, the Labour Court issued an order that calls on the leadership of FAWU to appear before the court to explain what steps it has taken to halt the violence and criminality that has taken place during the strike.
SAB has made a final offer of a 7% average wage increase with performance related pay. This will increase the average monthly pay for shift workers by R1 196 to R18 283. SAB believes this offer is fair, being above inflation and highly competitive, comparing favourably with other sectors. The average remuneration across all sectors in SA being R4 773 and the average bargaining unit salary in the FMCG sector is R9 600.
The overwhelming majority of employees have continued working, with fewer than 27% of the bargaining unit currently on strike – a total of 750 people out of 2 800 bargaining unit members.
The wage offer was carefully considered and made to FAWU after months of negotiation in the hope of averting a strike. In view of this, and the campaign of violence that has increased in recent weeks, SAB currently has no meetings under way or planned with FAWU.