Calls mount for North West government to take over Clover Lichtenburg plant

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The General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa), dairy farmers and former Clover workers at Lichternburg in the North West are calling on the provincial government to consider taking over the Clover milk factory.

This after Clover, one of the country’s biggest cheese manufactures in the country, closed its doors in December last year.

The company indicated it was relocating to KwaZulu-Natal, citing local municipal service delivery challenges.

Many jobs were lost and dairy farmers have since closed down.

President of Giwusa, Mametlwe Sebei, says over 300 workers in Lichternburg alone were laid off due to the factory closure.

“Clover has agreed to hand over the facilities to government and to workers. They have also agreed to advance the initial cash of about R10 million, now they have increased that to R15 million to assist in recapitalising and repurposing those factories to safe jobs but also for productive capacity in those small towns. We as unions are rejecting the amount because it is simply inadequate. Our estimation is that to personalise and recapitalise all of these factories, an investment on the scale of hundreds of millions if not billions would be required.”

In June last year, Clover cited lack of water provision, recurring power outages and damaged roads by the Ditsobotla Local Municipality as part of the reasons for relocating.

More details in the report below: 

Strike at Clover 

Around 4 000 workers belonging to the Food & Allied Workers Union (FAWU) and the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa downed tools over two months ago due to wage cuts and other changes to their working conditions.

Striking workers at Clover South Africa have since vowed to continue with their industrial action until their demands are met.

In a statement, Clover Management says the company has been operating in a difficult environment over the last few years because economic growth in the country has been poor.

“This has led to weak consumer demand for its products while at the same time its costs have been growing above inflation, hence the need to embark on the restructuring process.”

-Additional reporting by Tshepo Mongoai