Clover workers strike in SA since November 22

Giwusa president MAMETLWE SEBEI (2nd from left) leads a march of striking Clover workers

The General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) has lambasted Clover, claiming that the massive South African dairy producer is lining its pockets at the expense of its employees.

Clover workers have been on strike since November 22nd against sackings and closures.
The General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa) and the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) announced yesterday that Clover has backed down on the mass sacking of workers at the City Deep factory.
According to the unions, in the latest notice of sackings, the company reduced the potential job losses from 821 workers to nine workers.
During Giwusa and Fawu’s last meeting with Clover, management also offered to reinstate 763 workers the company sacked in November 2021, with full pay for a further eight months.
‘We will only agree to this if these workers are reinstated on full pay for the duration of the entire two-year collective agreement, with their wages to be reviewed as with all workers at the end of the collective agreement and based on increases.
‘Clover’s management has prioritised profits at the expense of the workforce, their families and communities.’ said Giwisa
The unions have put forward several alternatives to job losses; however, Clover refused all of them.
‘The company only offered to pay the difference of the 20 per cent wage cut for a period of eight months if workers returned to work,’ said Giwusa.
According to Clover, the offer the company put forward to the union was reasonable given their financial position. ‘We do however question the bona fides of the unions. To date they have failed or refused to offer any compromise or alternative solution, instead rejecting outright all offers presented,’ said Clover.
Giwusa accused the dairy producer of attempting to cut costs by R300 million and said that workers made Clover R7,4 billion in 2019 and R10 billion in 2020.
The president of Giwusa, Mametlwe Sebei, said: ‘The company’s management blamed the downturn in the economy as the main reason for shedding jobs.
‘But it has long been planning project Sencillo (the “rationalisation” of Clover’s production platforms and consolidation of its distribution operations).’
‘The company is clearly using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to carry out neo-liberal restructuring.
‘Clover must open their books, share their financial records, and disclose how much managers earn in comparison to workers.’
Meanwhile, African National Congress (ANC) workers have said that they will continue their stay-away until every last one of them has received their full salary from the organisation.
They’ve rejected claims from treasurer-general Paul Mashatile that payments are all up to date.
Mashatile told journalists in Soweto last Thursday that the ANC has finally met its obligations, ensuring that staff members have received their salaries after going without for months.
However, labour union Nehawu, an affiliate of the ANC’s ally Cosatu, has filed papers in court demanding the immediate settlement of outstanding wages.
While ANC staffers admit that the party has started settling some outstanding salaries, they said that Mashatile was lying when he claimed that everyone had been paid up.
Mashatile, who was reacting to Nehawu taking action against the ANC, told journalists that the organisation has finally met its obligation.
‘Salaries have been paid up to date; up to January. So, we don’t owe anybody,’ Mashatile said.
But staff committee chair Mvusi Mdala said that there are still workers without salaries.
He said that there is also no indication from the ANC on whether it caught up on outstanding provident and unemployment insurance fund debts.
Mdala lambasted his organisation for raising the issue of possible retrenchments.
He also said that the ANC has made no attempt to compensate workers for all their suffering during this period.
‘Workers have lost houses, investment policies that they have worked hard for and now they have paid these salaries like everything is fine,’ Mdala said.
The ANC staffers’ stay-away is set to continue until those in provinces like the Free State and the North West receive their salaries in full.
In leaked audio from a closed ANC national executive committee meeting, party president Cyril Ramaphosa said that he’d rather fall on his sword than have the public find out that their money was being used to fund internal contests.
ANC treasurer-general Mashatile said that party president Cyril Ramaphosa had never refused to account for his leaked comments on the role of money in ANC conferences.
Mashatile said that Mervyn Dirks ANC MP had come under fire in the ANC for failing to follow proper processes and not for calling on Ramaphosa to account.
A resolute Mashatile is adamant that the president of the ANC will never refuse to account for what he said in the leaked audio clip.
Instead, he’s taken issue with Dirks, who pushed for the country’s head of state to appear before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).
Mashatile said that there was no problem with asking for their leader to explain himself.
He pointed out that Dirks failed to follow protocol in the way he went about his request.
‘We have leaders that we have appointed in caucus, we have leaders that we have appointed in Parliament and certain things must go through them,’ Mashatile said.
This is at odds with the praise Dirks received from embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who said that the MP was doing what the party leadership said he should do, which was exposing corruption whenever he saw it.
Mashatile said that Dirks must remember that he did not represent himself in Parliament said: ‘He didn’t just walk in there. We expect a particular behaviour for people who are on the list on the list.’
The treasurer-general said that Dirks has a duty to adhere to the discipline of the organisation.

  • Former domestic worker and IZWI employee Nomuhle Ndlovu, featured on the cover of a new survey focused on domestic worker rights in South Africa, has joined the fight for domestic worker dignity on the job.

‘The dignity of people’s very being is at stake,’ said IZWI Domestic Worker Alliance’s founder and lead researcher Amy Tekie in opening remarks at a recent webinar focused on a new qualitative survey of human rights violations against live-in domestic workers in South Africa.
‘Really awful things are happening behind closed doors,’ said IZWI’s Amy Tekie.
‘The Persistence of Private Power: Sacrificing Rights for Wages’ – co-published by Johannesburg-based IZWI Domestic Workers Alliance and the Solidarity Centre – surveys the constitutional and human rights of live-in domestic workers in South Africa.
It describes how domestic workers’ rights to privacy, freedom of movement and children’s right to parental care are frequently sacrificed for wages in a sector underpinned by racism, sexism and classism.
Resulting exploitation – largely invisible because of the private spaces in which it occurs – continues regardless of constitutional protections and industry-specific labour regulations.
‘We are expected to be indoors even when it is our off day,’ said the survey’s lead field researcher Theresa Nyoni.
‘We are not allowed to be seen around,’ said Nyoni, of a sectional title housing complex in which she was formerly employed as a domestic worker.
Nyoni described almost universally denied opportunities for live-in domestic workers in sectional title housing to enjoy open spaces on, or near, the employers’ property and lack of freedom to move around or receive visitors in their own quarters – even during off hours.
And, for most live-in domestic workers, she noted invasive employer surveillance and almost total lack of privacy. We are sleeping with kids and not allowed to lock the door; parents barge into the room and even the bathroom,’ she said.
Employers isolate domestic workers by routinely denying them visits from friends, spouses and children, and some domestic workers say they are not allowed to leave their employer’s home for any reason.
Nyoni described her former employer’s refusal to allow her to leave the work premises, on her own time, to purchase and arrange for transportation of bulk food items to her own children during the pandemic.
Survey interviewees outlined living conditions that Tekie described as ‘almost kidnapping (in its) constant and complete employer surveillance and control.’
Besides being isolated from loved ones, many live-in domestic workers said they were denied employer permission to keep their infants with them, receive packages or use their employer’s kitchen to preserve and prepare their own food, and those employed in sectional title housing complexes reported repeated employer and security guard searches.
Some live-in domestic workers said they have chosen abortions for fear of losing their jobs.
IZWI interviewed 115 mostly migrant live-in domestic workers for the survey, most of whom were working in or near Johannesburg – where working conditions are anecdotally better than those than in rural areas, said Tekie.
Approximately half of South Africa’s more than 800,00 domestic workers live in by IZWI’s estimate, although definitive data does not yet exist, she said.