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Clover goes to court as wage strike goes into ninth week

Dairy producer Clover has approached the labour court for an urgent interdict to end a countrywide strike at its factories which is in its ninth week.

In an amended notice of motion filed in court on Wednesday, Clover says its interdict seeks to declare the strike — led by the General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) — as unprotected.

The interdict aims to stop striking employees from disrupting business operations and inciting members of the public to disrupt the company’s operations.

It also seeks to restrain union leaders from protesting and picketing outside CEO Johann Vorster’s home in pursuit of their demands.

Workers have marched through the streets of Johannesburg to call on consumers to boycott Clover products.

Giwusa president Mametlwe Sebei said: “We condemn and we will vigorously oppose the abuse of the courts to intimidate workers fighting for their jobs and livelihoods of their families.”

Clover was not immediately available for comment.

Commenting on the affect of the strike, Dawie Maree, head of information and marketing at FNB Agribusiness, said an indefinite strike was bad news for any company, and more so for companies in the dairy industry where margins are very tight.

“Should the strike continue, it will put the company under financial pressure and in the long run might be detrimental to sustainable operations,” said Maree.

He added that as Clover was one of the biggest dairy companies, the strike might hurt producers as well.

Maree, however, said it was unlikely that dairy prices would rise as a result of the strike because competition in the dairy industry was healthy.

South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi last week called on workers to occupy Clover factories.

Giwusa president Mametlwe Sebei also said last week the union aimed to lead a co-ordinated consumer boycott programme which would see  members and young people visiting malls to ensure people did not buy Clover products.

The court hearing continues on Thursday.

Business Times



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