Africa Sugar Digest, Vol. I, No 16, September 2010

Swaziland: SPAWU 2010 negotiation results

Last March, the Swaziland Plantation Agricultural Workers Union (SAPWU) negotiated a minimum wage of 1,300 lilangeni, Swazi currency at par with the South African rand (USD 1.00=SZL 7.17), following an across-the-board wage increase of 6.5 percent. The daily-paid workers will receive 50 rands per day (workers in irrigation, weeding, field cleaning); and there is a daily bonus of 6 rands for cane loaders for weather-related issues, like working in the rain. Education allowance is 450 rands per employee per year, and a burial scheme was set up with benefits of 10,000 rands and employees contributing 30 rands per month. The proposal to set up pension plans for non-pensionable workers was referred to Court. The union also secured the agency principle by which non-union members will contribute the equivalent of union dues as they benefit directly from the negotiations conducted by the union. (With information from Oscar Dlamini and Bongani Maziya, SAPWU.)

Kenya: West Kenya reneges agreement on 44-hour week

West Kenya Sugar Company appealed to the Industrial Court to revise a 2009 agreement that their employees would see their working week reduced from 48 hours to 44. The company, reported The Nation, broke the agreement after “further consultations” showed to the company that its agents “had not fully exhausted their consultation before striking the deal.” In somewhat strange news, the paper also reported that the judge’s opinion was that reducing the working week would have “serious repercussions on the productivity of the firm,” and that the factory needs “every support ahead of huge competition expected from sugar producers from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in 2012.” The company had also argued that, in comparison with Mumias and Nzoia sugar estates that have a 44 hour-week, they are a privately owned company who receive no government support through debt relief, as in the case of Nzoia.

West Kenya is owned by the Rai Group, which also owns the Kinyara Sugar Works in Uganda.

Ethiopia: Karuturi mill to start operations in October

Dow Jones reported that the Indian company Karuturi Global will start operations in Ethiopia in October, in a factory with a daily processing capacity of 7,000 tonnes. The company is reported to have invested USD 100 million in the factory. Internet-based reports said that Karuturi Global has leased 311,700 hectares in Ethiopia to develop export crops like cereals, sugar and palm oil.

Kenya: Mumias Sugar secures USD 20 million for ethanol plant

Mumias Sugar Co., Kenya’s largest sugar producer, has negotiated a USD 20 million loan to build an ethanol plant with a capacity of 22 million litres per year. The loan comes from a group of banks lead by the Ecobank Transnational Inc.

Kenya passed a biofuels law in 2009, mandating a 10 percent blend of ethanol in gasoline. Local papers reported that the blending starts in September at Kenya Pipeline Co. depots in Eldoret, Kisumu and Nakuru, in the country’s western region.

IUF Global Sugar in Africa: Sub-regional work

On 22 Aug. the IUF sugar project held the “Maragra Meeting” of the “South Group,” which comprises Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa, with the participation of twelve delegates: four from SAPWU (Swaziland), one for FAWU (South Africa) and seven from SINTIA, in addition to the IUF Global Sugar Co-ordinator. The meeting reported on the results of the 2010 negotiations held by the three unions, exchanged information on terms and conditions of work, and planned actions to support their negotiations in 2011. Based on the IUF sugar project’s electronic communication work, the unions will share information through IUF Global Sugar, as input to sub-regional meetings on negotiations. The meetings are scheduled for mid January in Durban, coinciding with the pre-negotiations workshops held by unions in the South African National Bargaining Council in the Sugar Sector, and for April, in relation to the sector-wide wage negotiations by SINTIA in Mozambique. (The Maragra Meeting follows the Big Bend Meeting of last March. Both Maragra and Big Bend are sites of Illovo Sugar subsidiaries in Mozambique and Swaziland respectively.)

IUF Global Sugar in Africa: IT Workshops in Mozambique and Swaziland

A four-day IT workshop with eight participants from the SINTIA branches of Xinavane and Maragra in Mozambique (three delegates from each estate in addition to SINTIA’s national office) was held from 16-19 August in Manhiça, next to Maragra Sugar. The workshop opens the second phase of the long-term IT work with SINTIA, shifting the focus to training programs held in the sugar estates.

The first IT training program with Swaziland’s SAPWU took place from 24-27 August in Mbabane, with four participants from the Ubombo Ranches branch. The focus was on developing skills on electronic mail to facilitate communication within the union and with IUF Sugar. SPAWU is also launching the union’s sugar coordinating committee, with representatives of the country’s three sugar estates and the national office to support the IUF sugar project. It is also a pilot project for the union, which may be then reproduced in other sectors.

The IUF Global Sugar Co-ordinator and the unions visited the EU delegations in Mozambique and Swaziland to learn about the state of the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries (AMSPC). The IUF Global Sugar is exploring ways to support union participation in the process.

Africa Sugar Digest is produced thanks to the IUF Global Sugar project in East and Southern Africa. It appears as news becomes available. Contributions are welcome. The IUF African sugar project is supported by the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Auto Workers (SJF-CAW), with contribution from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Labour International Development Program of the Canadian Labour Congress (LIDP-CLC).

Africa Sugar Digest, Vol. I, No 16, September 2010 – click to download –

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