The strike by workers at the Blue Ribbon plant in Salt River, Cape Town, has entered into its third month without a prospect of its ending any time soon.
There seem to be no end in sight around the salary dispute between the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) and Premier FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). Workers at the Blue Ribbon plant in Salt River in Cape Town have been on a protected strike as from the 28th of November last year. According to FAWU chairperson at the plant, Galelekile Ntshontsho, their initial demands included a medical aid, a funeral cover and a 15% salary increase. At the moment, the union is demanding a 9% salary increase whilst the employer is offering 8%.
According to Ntshontsho, they had another round of negotiations on Monday but they could not come to an agreement. “The company is still offering 8% with no back-pay and the agreement is for three years,” he said.
Meanwhile, the company spokesperson, Siobhan O’Sullivan said that the union is being obdurate. “Premier has offered a 3-year, 8% wage increase which is above inflation, amongst other benefits. This has been rejected by the union,” she said in a statement.
A Multinational Corporation trend report for 2018 by the Labour Research Services (LRS) states that food and beverage companies like Pioneer Foods, Tiger Brands and others saw a steady increase in average revenue over the last five years, with a 1.5% increase from 2016 to 2017.
The LRS trend report further reveals that the executive remuneration in the sector increased by over 8% from 2016 to 2017.
Outside of South Africa, Premier FMCG operates in Swaziland and Mozambique.
The striking workers have complained about police brutality and the use of private security by the company. Premier FMCG has raised issues of intimidation of those workers who are not striking. According to the union, the company is using temporary workers. “Premier will continue to run our operations and distribute products to our loyal customers and consumers, despite the strike,” said the company spokesperson.
Premier’s Salt River operations manufactures Blue Ribbon bread and Snowflake flour and they also distribute a basket of Premier products throughout the greater Cape Town area.