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Top Story of The Day  |  Top Story of The Day

Last updated: 22 February 2019

FAWU Condemns Brutal Force Against Striking Unilever Workers

The Food and Allied Workers` Union strongly condemns the unprovoked attack on peacefully striking union members by private security guards at Unilever Pty Ltd`s Indosa plant in Durban on Monday , 18 February 2019. More than 600 FAWU members embarked on a legal strike on 11 February this year in demand of a housing allowance and profit-sharing scheme after the parties have been going back and forth over these issues during negotiations over the past five years.

Private securities calling themselves "S.W.A.T.", who were hired by the company two weeks before the strike, invaded the picketing area last Monday and summarily unleashed a torrent of rubber bullets on innocent workers while they were demonstrating peacefully. When female members questioned why they were shooting at them, the security guards continued blasting them with pepper spray. Four of our members were seriously injured and two of them have opened criminal cases against the security guards in question. Workers were brutally shot at when simply attempting to go to their cars parked on premises agreed on between the parties. Trigger-happy securities who clearly has no regard for picketing rules proceeded to shoot paintballs and rubber bullets at our members in an attempt to provoke them.

It is becoming more and more common over the last couple of years that employers use security guards to provoke our members to paint them in a negative light whilst these poor workers are simply exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully for better working conditions. We have experienced the exact same scenario at the current Blue Ribbon bakery strike in Cape Town that is nearly three months long. This is just another attempt by companies to paint its employees in a bad light . Unilever should rather hand back its award as "Africa`s top employer of 2018" as it is certainly not the case currently.

FAWU members have always enjoyed a profit-sharing benefit that was calculated annually but this has been taken away without consultation when the company was taken over as a going- concern a few years back. The union has also tried to negotiate a housing allowance for the past five years as it feels that Unilever, being a global company, can afford to grant these benefits to its workforce.

FAWU and the company have been in more than 15 sittings in an attempt to resolve the dispute before the union opted for strike action. The plant is currently operating at a minimal level as almost all those in the bargaining unit is participating in the strike. The parties will participate in another round of a section 150- facilitated meeting with the CCMA on Saturday 23 February in an attempt to find a way forward.