SABMiller Says South Africa Employee Houses Firebombed in Strike

SABMiller Plc, the world’s second-biggest brewer, said some of its South African employees have had their houses firebombed and cars burned as a five week-long strike over wages turned violent.

There have been more than 72 incidents of violence and intimidation since the strike began on Sept. 30, including a case of attempted murder and arson in the Gauteng province on Oct. 30, London-based SABMiller said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The company has “no meetings under way or planned” with FAWU, it said.

“As a union we don’t condone violence and have communicated to striking members that they should not be part of any violence,” Mark Oliver, national treasurer for the Food & Allied Workers Union, said by phone today. “We want to call the strike off in a dignified manner through talks with SAB. We have written to the company to ask to meet early next week to resolve the strike and find a way forward for our striking members to return to work.”

South Africa has been plagued by strikes this year that have affected industries including mining, carmaking and construction. The National Treasury cut its forecast for 2013 economic expansion to 2.1 percent from 2.7 percent last week, partly as a result of the stoppages.

The country’s labor court has said the FAWU’s leadership must explain how it plans to halt the violence that has taken place during the SABMiller strike. A legal representative for the union will be in court today, Oliver said.

About 750 people out of 2,800 members have been on strike, according to SABMiller. The house of one member who had continued working was set alight with a firebomb this week, it said. His wife and 11 year-old son were taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

SAB is offering employees an average increase of 7 percent, while the union is asking for 9 percent. Inflation was 6 percent in September.

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