COSATU KZN is fully behind the striking workers at Fry’s Family Food and condemns the arrogance of the employer

The Congress of South African Trade Unions(COSATU) in KwaZulu-Natal is dismayed at the arrogance displayed by Fry’s Family Food in Westmead, Pinetown. Following our visit and engagements with the workers who are members of our affiliate SACCAWU, the federation discovered that the employer is at loggerheads with employees due to the reasonable demands tabled by workers during the bargaining process.

It was revealed that workers were demanding a mere R1,90 cents increase in their salaries per hour. Additionally, workers also requested a guaranteed 190 hours of work per month. This demand emanated from the employer’s workplace restructuring which included the introduction of technology to reduce hours of work. Workers are facing the daily ever rising cost of living, as research has shown that the basket of basic food stuff was around R4805 last year and now is now sitting at R5160.

Due to this dispute, workers decided to exercise their right to strike as provided by the Labour Relations Act. This strike action was intended to last for three days as an attempt to pursue the employer to reconsider its position.

Instead of the employer engaging faithfully with the workers, it arrogantly enforced the lockout system. COSATU is not surprised by this conduct of Fry’s Family Food, considering that this is an American company that has had various challenges with its own workers back home, in America.

Previously we have witnessed many companies who have established branches in South Africa under the auspices of foreign direct investments to exploit our citizens and amass the resources for their own benefit. Whilst COSATU appreciates the role of foreign direct investment, multi-multinational companies should be progressive. Foreign direct investment must assist in creating decent jobs and contribute in growing the country’s GDP through encouraging fair distribution for the growth of the economy.  

The state should prohibit instances where foreign direct investments benefit the profit margin of foreign companies while local workers are subjected to extreme poverty. It is believed that while the working conditions of workers are downgraded at Fry’s Company, the director is alleged to have received a bonus of more than a million rand.

COSATU believes that it is high time that the citizens of South Africa unite with the workers to put an end to such an attitude. This arrogance by Fry’s employer is a lesson that as workers we need to address the fragmentations within the working-class organizations. We need to work on our solidarity as part of an injury to one is an injury to all.

This serves as evidence that the Alliance in the province is justified in identifying the campaign against the cost of living as one that should form part of the Alliance’s Program of Action.

We call on the public and our communities to work with the workers and support them in their struggles to better their lives and that of their families.

We commit to working with our affiliates and the local Pinetown structure to pledge solidarity support with the employees of Fry’s in Westmead.

COSATU in the province is seeking an audience with the Fry’s company in an attempt to assist the employer and the workers who are the union members of SACCAWU.

Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chain.

Issued by COSATU KwaZulu-Natal

For more information, please contact:
Edwin Mkhize(COSATU KZN Provincial Secretary)
082 399 7756 / 076 522 8839