The strike by workers at the Parmalat plant in Bonnievale is over. Management has fired all 300 striking workers. The situation has been described by Parmalat as volatile.
Yesterday, in another twist to the saga that started last week, all the workers went back to work. A spokesperson for the workers, who asked to remain anonymous, said they went back to work “because you cannot negotiate without a job”.
The workers were demanding salary increases and end-of-year bonuses. Yesterday, the workers’ representative told The New Age they would return to work at their old pay grades because their situation was desperate.
“It is the festive season and we need to put food on our tables. We have to think about our families. It was a difficult decision to make but we have to do what we have to do,” he said.
Parmalat said yesterday that the dismissal of the temporary workers was very unfortunate.
“We have been assured that all reasonable steps were taken to try to avoid the dismissal. The workers were repeatedly requested not to continue with the unprotected strike and to stop intimidating workers wishing to work,” the company said.
Parmalat accused the strikers of barricading the entrance to the plant. The striking workers were employed by an outside company, Workforce, to work at Parmalat.
“They were implored by their employer as well as union representatives, the CCMA and the local police services to resort to alternative legal processes.”
The workers’ representative said that while they have returned to work under the same conditions they protested against, they did not see the strike as a failure.
“This strike was an eye-opener for us, the workers, and the bosses. This will show Parmalat that we have the power to withhold our labour and we know they lost a lot of money during this strike.
“This will teach them how to treat their workers in the future,” the representative said.
He said they had been allowed to return to their jobs.
Parmalat said: “The situation in Bonnievale remains volatile and evolving. We remain concerned about the situation and it is our sincere hope that this situation will soon be resolved.”