Today, 27 May 2014, over 5,500 workers in the sugar milling and refining value-chain launched a protected strike to support their demands for:
- Wage increment of 11 percent across the board
- 40-hour working week
- Monthly housing subsidy of ZAR 800
- Permanent employment of all fixed-term and other contract workers
The workers are members of the IUF-affiliated Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), as well as members of two other unions in the sector, NASERIEU and UASA.
FAWU leaders reported today that the strike is respected in all mills in the KwaZulu Natal province, the heart of the South African sugar industry.
The strike follows several negotiating meetings under the Sugar Bargaining Council that started in March.
Under South African labour legislation, workers on a protected strike cannot be dismissed. FAWU leaders expect that another 5,000 workers under contract would join the strike as well. The strike is the first in the South African sugar sector in 17 years. The previous one, in 1997, lasted 10 days.