Blue Ribbon workers return to work

Premier’s Salt River operations manufactures Blue Ribbon bread and Snowflake flour and distributes a basket of products throughout the greater Cape Town area. Photo by Mzi Velapi

A strike of over 100 days by Blue Ribbon workers at the Salt River Plant came to an end after the workers and the employer agreed on an 8% salary increase

Hundreds of Blue Ribbon workers at its plant in Salt River, Cape Town, have returned to work this week after being on strike for almost four months. The workers, led by the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), reached an agreement with their employer with the help of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. According to the press statement from the union, the workers accepted an offer of a 3-year, 8% across-the-board wage increase. The workers downed tools on 28 November 2018 demanding a 15% wage increase, funeral cover and medical aid.

“Backpay for the period from 1 July to 27 November 2018 will be implemented no later than 22 March 2019,” reads the statement from the union.

The strike took place at a time the employer was restructuring the work day. According to FAWU chairperson at the plant, Galelekile Ntshontsho, the employer wanted to increase the shift from 8 to 12 hours.

“All outstanding issues in term of the collective agreement will be concluded within 30 days after the latest agreement has been signed and will be subject to a binding arbitration award,” says FAWU. The outstanding issues according to the union spokesperson, Dominique Martin, relate to the issues of shift patterns.

Meanwhile the company spokesperson, Shioban O’ Sullivan, said that the delivery routes of Premier FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) affected by the strike have been re-opened.

FAWU’s general secretary, Katishi Masemola said that they will use the victory of the workers to call for a nationwide strike at the company.

“We are pleased with this outcome and in a few weeks we will be engaging this company on centralised bargaining and this time the strike will be national should they not give in to this demand. We cannot allow this company to get away with this backwardness,” he said.

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