About 20 employees of the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) picketed outside the head office in Plattekloof on Wednesday, as part of a national strike over wages.
The workers are demanding an 8.5% salary increase and an increased car allowance.
Ettienne Rahl, an employee for 17 years and chairperson of the trade union Solidarity in the PPECB said the workers had been negotiating since January, but management had only offered a 7% increase.
The PPECB offers “quality certification and cold chain management services for producers and exporters of perishable food products”.
Tina-Louise Rabie, marketing and communications manager, said the company’s offer was in line with inflation forecasts. She said agriculture had been severely impacted by the drought in 2016 “and we expect this trend to continue in 2017.”
According to Rahl, the strike will have a huge effect on exports of food and the workers are hoping that exporters will put pressure on management. “We are intending to disrupt the business as much as possible, to force them to sit down and listen to our demands”, he said.
But Rabie said “contingency plans have been put in place” and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had promised to assist.
The offices affected were Langkloof, Sunday’s River Valley, Montague Gardens, Tzaneen, Gauteng Centre, Ceres, Groblersdal and Nelspruit, said Rabie.
Rahl said last year they had managed to secure car allowances for staff but workers wanted these raised. Some workers travelled more than 18,000 km a year and “those guys are not benefitting in the current system” said Rahl. Workers wanted the allowance raised from R3,200 to R3,900 and a higher kilometre rate.
Workers used their own cars and sometimes did extensive travelling, “and they are not getting reimbursed for that”, said Rahl.
The workers plan to strike until Friday and then to proceed with a “go slow” if an agreement has not been reached.
By Ashraf Hendricks
South Africa Today – South Africa News
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