S. African Apple, Pear Packer Ceres Hit by Arson During Strike

  • Company and union to take matter to government mediator
  • Financial impact of strike not yet calculated by company

Ceres Fruit Growers, South Africa’s biggest apple and pear packing company, said it has lost millions of rand during a strike that started at the beginning of this month because of arson and other malicious damage.

Further losses will be incurred from missed exports, the company, based in the country’s Western Cape province, said. South Africa is the continent’s biggest producer of the fruits.

“It remains difficult to calculate the financial impact of the strike,” Managing Director Francois Malan said in an e-mailed response to questions on Tuesday. “Once our fruit reaches its destination we will have a better idea of the financial impact.”

About 1,200 members of the Food and Allied Workers Union are demanding a 12.5 percent rise in pay and the union and the company will within a few days meet with government mediator, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. FAWU has said it could settle for a lower increase if its members get a share of profits. South Africa’s annual inflation rate is 5 percent.

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