On 6 June, eleven days after launching a strike, two unions, the IUF-affiliated Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) and NASARIEU, reached a wage agreement with the sugar employers ending the strike of some 5,000 South African sugar workers, of which 2,730 are FAWU members. Workers were to resume work on Monday 9 June.
The agreement grants wage increases as follows:
- Lowest band of grades (Band “A” in the Paterson job grading) will receive 10 per cent, which translates into ZAR 595 and ZAR 635 per month.
- Middle band of grades (Brand “B”) will receive 9 per cent, between ZAR 600-975 a month, and
- Highest band (Band “C”) will receive 8.75 per cent, between ZAR 1,080 and ZAR 1,415 a month (USD 1.00=ZAR 10.58)
The three other issues in dispute were referred to a “separated forum comprising of the full Council,” which will reach a decision by the end of 2014, “unless otherwise agreed to.” These issues are:
- 1- ZAR 800 monthly as housing subsidy,
- 2- A 40-hour working week down from the current 43-hour, and,
- 3- Permanent employment to some 5,000 fixed-term contract and permanent casual workers.
FAWU called the employers “to meaningfully engage with the unions” on these three dispute issues.
FAWU and NASARIEU organised a demonstration in front of the TSB office in Malelane (Mpumalanga province) on 2 June, mass meetings at Clairwood and Eston on 3 June, and a street demonstration in Durban in 4 June.
The IUF family of unions sent solidarity messages to FAWU and the striking sugar workers, which were read at the meetings and shared with the FAWU members across the sector.
The sugar struggle continues as FAWU has declared dispute with the South African Sugar Research Institute (SASRI) which involves 215 workers and with Illovo Sugar’s seven plantations, covering some 1,300 workers, and conciliation/mediation processes are expected to start soon. (From the FAWU Press Release, dated 8 June 2014.)