DAIRY TROUBLES: Protesters outside Parmalat’s offices in Bonnievale where workers have been striking for better wages and working benefits.
There is no resolution in sight to the strike by 315 contracted workers at the dairy product producer Parmalat in Bonnievale.
Instead, the strike grows stronger with full-time staffers joining their contracted colleagues in solidarity.
This new move at the plant in the Western Cape has effectively led to production coming to a standstill.
On Monday strikers contracted to an independent company, Workforce, were presented with their first new offer by Parmalat and given a deadline of 6am yesterday to accept.
The strikers rejected the offer and were in a celebratory mood when the rest of the workforce at Parmalat joined them in solidarity.
A striker, who asked to remain anonymous, said they regarded the offer from Parmalat management as “insulting”.
The workers earn a salary of R10.95 an hour and Parmalat offered them R11.72 an hour – 77 cents increase.
“What can you do with 77 cents in today’s market?” one of the striking workers asked.
He said the increase would hardly make any impact on their lives. Since 2009 to 2011 workers had received an increase, on average, of 60 cents an hour.
The workers are regarded as being on an “unprotected” strike.
A Parmalat employee who showed solidarity with striking workers said he had joined the strike because he could “no longer go to work while fellow-members of my community are in the streets”.
“It made me feel like a scab. I have been going into the building since last week and seeing these hard-working people standing there asking for what is rightfully theirs.
“I felt guilty doing this every day. So now that I am striking with them, I have a clear conscience,” he said.
The striking workers are demanding a substantial increase in salary and an annual bonus.
They currently receive no additional benefits apart from the R10.95 an hour.
The strike continues.