South Africa Labour Unions Mounts Pressure on Clover as Strike Enters 10th Week

A number of labour organizations plan a major solidarity action on Thursday against Clover companies and stores that stock its products as a protracted strike for wage increases and against retrenchments enters its 10th week.

South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the Food and Allied Workers Union and the General Industrial Workers Union, along with the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) have resolved to pile pressure on Clover through a national and international day of action.

The unions are protesting Clover’s plans to close four factories in Gauteng, the Free State, and the North West, as well as the closure of two factories in the Western Cape.

In 2021, 1 600 workers were retrenched and a further 822 will be retrenched by the end of February.

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“On January 25 is the national and international day of action when Saftu is calling on the working class to occupy shops stocking Clover products and to hold demonstrations at embassies. We are calling on all our members and all progressive working-class organisations to support this strike and to support the call to boycott Clover. Those who are able to attend the demonstrations are encouraged to do so in support of this just cause,” the unions said in a joint statement.

Clover was planning to close a further four factories in Frankfort and Heilbron in the Free State, Lichtenburg in the North-West, and City Deep in Gauteng. 

“The inevitable outcome of these factory closures is loss of jobs. In 2021 alone, Clover retrenched more than 1 600 workers. It is planning to retrench a further 812 by the end of February 2022. This is even though in the authorisation of the acquisition of Clover shares, the acquiring company, Milco, had promised not to retrench workers,” the statement said.

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Clover management is proposing to cut wages by more than 20 percent.

According to the unions, the management claims that the workers’ salaries are above the average market rate, and thus they propose to cut their wages.

The unions held a rally on Saturday to mobilize Numsa, the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union, and the Transport, Action, Retail and General Workers Union, at which a special working-class movement was established to discuss solidarity actions and to elaborate a further programme.

Over the weekend, a Fidelity security guard was killed protecting a Clover delivery vehicle from striking workers in Olifantsfontein.

The guard was assigned to protect a Clover delivery vehicle against strikers in an escort vehicle.

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