South Africa Grain Processors, Union Sign Pay Pact; Avert Strike

  • Employees to get increases of 6 percent to 8 percent
  • Union considered strike action that would have started Friday

South Africa’s biggest grain processing and logistics companies and a union representing workers reached a wage agreement, averting a strike.

The pact, signed Thursday, means that workers will get a wage increase of 6 percent to 8 percent from companies including Senwes Ltd., NWK Ltd., OWK Ltd. and Suidwes Ltd., which are former agricultural cooperatives, Riaan Gerritzen, a representative for the processors, said by phone.

“We have signed an agreement and there will be no strike,” he said.

Workers were seeking above-inflation increases as South Africa, a net exporter of agricultural products, last year had the least rainfall since records started in 1904, damaging crops and herds, and raising food prices. The farmers will need as much as 16.6 billion rand ($1.1 billion) in the year through March to subsidize feed purchases, provide grants and interest-rate subsidies to aid commercial growers in financial distress and help operators pay workers, a study by AGRI SA and others showed.

Demands included an increase of at least 500 rand monthly and a minimum wage of at least 4,500 rand. Other requests include an extra month of pay annually, performance bonuses and an 850 rand housing allowance, Deputy General Secretary Moleko Phakedi said. South Africa’s annual inflation rate was 6.2 percent in April.

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