SABMiller South African Workers Strike Over Wage Dispute

SABMiller Plc, the world’s second-biggest brewer, said its South African operations are unaffected by strike action some workers have taken in a dispute over pay.

A “small minority” of employees participated in the walkout, with most turning up for work, spokeswoman Robyn Chalmers said in an e-mailed response to questions. The Food and Allied Workers Union, known as FAWU, served SABMiller with a notice last week informing it of the action, Chalmers said.

Tens of thousands of workers in Africa’s biggest economy have gone on strike during the last six weeks in disputes over pay as inflation cuts consumers’ purchasing power. Disputes in the carmaking, gold and construction industries were settled after employers agreed to above-inflation salary increases. South Africa’s annual inflation rate accelerated to 6.4 percent in August, according to Statistics South Africa.

SABMiller is offering employees an average increase of 7 percent, Chalmers said. FAWU is demanding 9 percent, union Deputy General Secretary Moleko Phakedi said by phone.

“By all accounts, we are having a very successful strike,” Phakedi said.

The average shift worker’s salary will rise to 18,283 rand ($1,813) per month if the 7 percent increase is implemented, SABMiller Managing Director Mauricio Leyva said by e-mail. The average remuneration across all industries in South Africa is 4,773 rand and the company won’t change its offer, he said.

Beverage sales in South Africa accounted for 16 percent of SABMiller’s revenue in the year through March. The brewer employs about 5,600 workers in its South African beer division, of which about 1,900 are union members, Chalmers said by e-mail yesterday. The beer company employees more than 70,000 people worldwide, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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