The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Free State say they believe that mass action in the form of a march is one of the ways they can stop the closure of poultry factories in the Free State.
The Provincial Union Secretary, Monyatsi oa Mahlatsi, says that they received notice from some of the poultry farmers that they will be closing down some of their production factories as they cannot compete with imported chicken that is significantly cheaper than their produce.
Mahlatsi says the union hopes to spark some dialogue with the government on the matter as well as stop the closure of these factories as this will result in job cuts for many, which the economy cannot afford.
He further adds that for the union, the deal with the chicken imports would be beneficial if there was a quota that stated that South African chicken must be sold more than imported chicken and also if the imported chicken, which comes in unlabelled packaging, could be packaged correctly so that consumers would know exactly what they are buying.
He says the Rainbow Chicken farm in Botshabelo has been affected a lot by the chicken imports and the union will be meeting with the farm’s officials to discuss ways to mitigate the matter.
Chicken consumers in America prefer chicken breast meat and wings and as opposed to South Africans, regard the leg quarter, i.e. the thigh and the drum, as by-products. Agoa allows them to export these pieces, including pork and beef, to South Africa at “dumping” prices.
According to Mahlatsi, this results in lost jobs and lower quality chicken for the local market. Chicken from America, by the time it reaches South African consumers, will be six weeks older than locally produced chicken.
The march will take place on the 17th of February 2017 in Bloemfontein to the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA).