Solidarity of unions at Ashton Canning compel Tiger Brands to keep the plant open

Various unions organised at Ashton Canning have forced Tiger Brands to keep the canning plant open for 12 months. This period will be used by the parties to find a buyer and to transform the company for the future. This great victory of the unions has secured the nearly 7500 jobs linked to the value chains in the area, to remain and not be lost through the closure.

Below are the steps the Unions took to keep the factory open:

·       Worked with Unions at the factory to co-develop a strategy to prevent closure

·       Engaged workers in Ashton in public meeting and messages of support.

·       Used the public media space to raise concerns.

·       Worked with the National Farmers Association AgriSA to raise matters publicly and politically.

·       Engaged the Tiger Brands directly about the need to stop the closure

·       Identified alternatives to closure including linking the Unions and management to the CCMA for the CCMA TERS (the old Training Layoff Scheme), and to the UIF for the UIF Reduced Working Time benefit

·       Ensured specialists attended the S189A consultations to motivate why alternatives exist and are viable alternatives

·       Engaged National Government to help stop the closure, including DTIC, DEL and the agriculture department. They met with the company and helped to find new potential investors

·       Linked the growers’ consortium to potential funding opportunities in the public and private sector

·       Engaged major shareholders of Tiger Brands to prevent the closure

We want to thank the national government through DTIC, DAFF, the agricultural ministry and the various Development Finance Institutions, for their help. We also thank Tiger Brands for working with Labour to keep the plant open. The farmers in the area are also working with Labour to find lasting solutions. They must however be cognisant of our aim to achieve a new ownership model that includes workers and communities and that has decent work provisions.

We remain committed to expanding this business and working in partnership to improve the Agri value chains in the district.

We must raise questions about Premier Alan Winde who misrepresented the situation in the plant to the media and the public. Winde made an announcement that a buyer had been secured. Provincial government could not secure a buyer despite Wesgro, their agency, whose mandate is to supposedly assist investors and businesses looking to branch out into the province. We must make it clear that there is still no buyer. We however appreciate that the efforts of the unions have led to a 12-month breathing space to find one.

Cosatu believes this is an important agreement. We urge the various levels of government to support the community and workers to get a share in the company. In this regard the municipality must allow the community and workers to use municipal halls to hold discussions on needed solutions. The municipality has not been forthcoming in assisting in this regard and must be held to account for it.

Long live the jobs in Langeberg canning and the surrounding farms.

Issued by

COSATU Western Cape
Provincial Secretary

For questions and further comments please contact Malvern De Bruyn on cellphone number 060 977 9027 or Motlatsi Tsubane on cellphonenumber 074 482 6180.