Cape Town - The under-fire dairy company, Clover, said there had been an increased number of incidents reported of store and business disruptions for its retail partners, after its workers embarked on strike since November.
This, after shoppers were greeted to chaotic scenes inside a Pick n Pay supermarket in Observatory on Wednesday when protesters stormed into the store, taking Clover products off the shelves.
The action was sparked by anger over a long-running labour dispute at the dairy company over its links to Israel.
Protesters pasted stickers stating on the dairy shelves stating “#BoycottClover, #NationaliseCloverUnderWorkersControl, #WorkersNeedWayBetter #StopMilkingWorkers” on the products.
Other flyers proclaimed “Stand in solidarity with striking workers and the people of Palestine”, with words in bold declaring “Do not buy Clover products” pasted on the aisles and fridges next to Clover products.
Abeeda Adams, co-ordinator of the protest, said they were not against the store, but they were against Clover: “Unfortunately, the store sells Clover products.”
This, as Clover employees on strike received support from the Media Review Network, saying it stood in solidarity with the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and the General Industries Workers Unions of SA (Giwusa) “to gain justice for employees adversely affected” by the takeover of Clover by Israeli company Milco.
Clover workers have been protesting against wage cuts, retrenchments and corporate restructuring.
As part of the rolling mass action against Clover/Milco, civil organisations and trade unions stormed the Pick n Pay store in a bid to show solidarity with hundreds of Clover workers who have called on consumers to boycott the company’s products.
Pick n Pay workers stood puzzled as the management tried to quell the confusion, engaging with the protesters. Meanwhile, some were eager to fight as scuffles ensued.
Adams said they demand the unconditional reinstatement of retrenched workers, among other issues.
She said workers also demanded the complete scrapping of austerity measures, including 20% salary cuts and the disinvestment of Milco.
Pick n Pay said: “Pick n Pay supports every citizen’s constitutional right to assemble peacefully and protest, with due regard to the rights of others.”
The store said that right does not extend to damaging property and disrupting their customers.
On Monday, members of Fawu and Giwusa demonstrated outside the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) offices in Johannesburg and in Cape Town in solidarity with the workers.
In light of the protest action, Clover said: “There have been an increased number of incidents reported of store and business disruptions for Clover’s retail partners. Clover respects the right of employees to strike in a peaceful and legal manner.
“Clover continues to act in accordance with all respective legislation, including, the Labour Relations Act and the Competition Commission conditions and remains committed to resolving the matter in a constructive manner,” the company said.
“All discussions will be considered in context of the business’ financial position and longer-term sustainability, which is to the benefit of all stakeholders.”