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Last updated: 24 November 2016

FAWU march to EU Offices and handover of memorandum

24 November 2016

About 1 100 members of the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), coming from the Poultry Industry, staged a successful protest march to the offices of the European Union (EU) Commission embassy at 29 George Storrar Drive as from 11h10 till 12h15 and handed a memorandum as summarised below.

At the heart of this Memo of Petition was the qualms of unfair trade practices, or the EU`s dumping of in-bone brown portions of Chicken`s wings, drumsticks and thighs at below average-cost of whole chicken as they sell the white portions` breasts at way above average-cost in their markets, in what is effectively cross-subsidisation leading to dumping of brown portions.

So we raised our concerns that this unfair trade arrangements is unacceptable noting that our country`s poultry industry constitute less than 1% of the world`s total chicken output yet poultry produce and products from RSA do not have Market Access to the EU due to technical barriers to entry, such as inspection and hygienic and other such technicalities, yet the same is not required for those coming from the EU by our government.

Thirdly, the growth of dumped chickens is now pushing the share of foreign chickens to local consumption to between 30% and 35% and may rise to 40% very soon and this has the impact of loss of market share for our local industry leading to job losses.

We pointed out that the poultry industry in this country is labour intensive and located in semi-urban areas thereby employing tens of thousands of people as unskilled and semi-skilled workers in a country that has close to 40% unemployment rate if the policy-appropriate expanded unemployment rate was to be used.

Therefore, we demanded the following:

  • That the EU immediately ceases to dump their chickens into the RSA market
  • That sensible and genuine negotiations between the EU and RSA be kick-started to arrive at a mutually-beneficial trade agreement on poultry products
  • That such an agreement must also allow the market access for our poultry products into EU market.
  • That such negotiation should be held quickly lest we call on our government to rather engage in "trade war" with the EU as every day passing means hundreds of jobs at stake if status quo was to be allowed.

We further pointed out that one of the poultry companies has earmarked to retrench about 1 500 workers when it closes one of its only three processing companies as it loses R1m a day as a consequence to the above EU dumping.

We were happy to hear that the EU Commission Ambassador`s pledge to meet and discuss with FAWU and the Representatives of the local SA Poultry Association (SAPA) the FAWU Memo of Petition and the way forward.

Meanwhile, we will be staging another protest march on Wednesday (30th November 2016 and to the KwaZulu-Nata Legislature on the 1st December so as to demand that the lawmakers should encourage the Cabinet to call for a review of the trade agreement with the EU on the issue of poultry.

General Secretary
Katishi Masemola