Five-Week Strike at South African Fruit Company Ends on Deal

  • Strike cost Ceres, growers 10 million rand; workers 7 million
  • Ceres’s fruit brands include Tru-Cape apples and pears

A five-week pay strike at one of South Africa’s largest packing and storage companies for apples and pears ended after Ceres Fruit Growers (Pty) Ltd. and the Food and Allied Workers Union reached a wage agreement.

The company will raise basic pay by 8.2 percent, with the total package increasing 9.6 percent and backdated to Aug. 1 this year, the union said in an e-mailed statement. The union had demanded a 12.5 percent raise and said it could settle for a lower amount if its members get a share of profit. This request has been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. Inflation in South Africa, where one in every four people is unemployed, was 4.6 percent in August.

"We have a big challenge to get our operations back on track and to get to work," Managing Director Francois Malan said in an a statement Wednesday. "Ceres workers are more than 7 million rand poorer because of the unprotected strike and this action has also cost Ceres and its growers about 10 million rand." Ceres’s brands include Tru-Cape apples and pears.

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