South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi says he’s happy that Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has agreed to investigate workers’ allegations against dairy producer, Clover.
SAFTU says Clover has reneged on the terms of its merger agreement. Clover was acquired in 2019 by Milco, which is led by the Israel-based Central Bottling Company.
The parties agreed to a moratorium on retrenchments for three years and the creation of 550 jobs through Project Masakhane.
About 5 000 Clover employees have been at loggerheads with their employer since November last year. The labour dispute is over unpaid bonuses and the closure of some factories.
SAFTU says that most of their members have not been paid their 13th cheque by Clover despite the CCMA ruling in favour of the workers last week.
The union is also accusing the company of deducting money from its members without a reason.
In its ruling, the CCMA had said that Clover could not forsake its obligation to pay workers despite the ongoing impasse between the two parties.
Vavi says 2 000 workers could lose their jobs due to proposed restructuring by Clover.
“The Minister has now agreed to initiate a process where our allegations will be tested through an investigation by the Competition Commission. The DTI will then approach the Competition Commission to say are the facts that are on the table that the terms of agreement of the merger are now being breached by Milco and Clover. We are happy with that,” says Vavi.
‘Reverse Milco takeover’
SAFTU Secretary General says workers want the government to stop the retrenchments, the closing down of factories and to reverse the Milco takeover.
Milco acquired Clover in a R4.8 billion deal.
“Six workplaces are already facing closure with one workplace already closed and with one factory in Lagtenberg closing in the next few days on the 30th of January. So we’ve said surely the situation demands that the Competition Commission must investigate and if it finds evidence as we believe it will, it must reverse the merger.”
Vavi says SAFTU will hold a media briefing at its headquarters in Johannesburg at 2 pm o’clock on Monday to present a broader programme of action.
VIDEO: Clover Protest – Zwelinzima Vavi addresses striking workers