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SOUTH AFRICA: Ceres accuses union of ‘dragging heels’ in bitter pay dispute

Crippling strike actions persist at a South African fruit packing operation where management claim intimidation tactics and ‘militant’ attitudes are preventing some people from returning to work.

Despite ongoing negotiations since the end of July between major pome fruit packing plant Ceres Fruit Growers (CFG) and the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), no agreement has been reached and strikes continue.

According to CFG, some workers want to return to work but have been threatened from doing so.

“We have acted in good faith but have to believe now that FAWU and other non-stakeholders are using this normal industrial wage dispute to further their own agendas and cannot be seen to be acting in the interests of their members and CFG employees,” CFG managing director Francois Malan said in a statement sent to www.freshfruitportal.com.

“CFG has been at a standstill, we have suffered arson and continued intimidation. Despite our latest offer, which includes a package increase of 9.5%, FAWU is dragging its heels.

“As one of the larger employers in Ceres, CFG and all our people and livelihoods are now at risk.”

There have been a series of protests, an arson attack and malicious damage to CFG property since industrial action began in late July.

In the latest round of negotiations, parties met on October 1 where CFG offered a 8% raise plus other benefits. FAWU had demanded 9% and a one-off bonus when employees return to work, plus additional benefits.

CFG claims many workers, union and non-union members, have indicated their willingness to return to work and accept the latest offer and insists it has been ‘committed to the negotiation process and has negotiated in good faith’, accusing FAWU of not displaying the same commitment.

At the time of writing, FAWU had not responded to requests for comment.

www.freshfruitportal.com

October 7th, 2015