Solidarity with the Robertson Abattoir workers!

23 12 2010

The Commercial Stevadoring Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) is supporting 48 workers who were first subjected to an illegal lockout by Robertson Abattoirs, on the 30th November 2010, and dismissed on the 3th December. CASAAWU and the workers need support from individuals, activists, social movements and progressive organisations.

The employer (who is also a commercial farmer) treated black workers not as human beings but as an extension of machinery.

Workers at the abattoir were forced to work excessive number of hours as overtime under conditions that bear resemblance to slavery. Often they had to work as many as 39 hours overtime in a week being paid a basic wage of only R315 (without benefits). This is illegal and in contravention of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1995 (BCEA). The workers experience is that they are being penalised by joining CSAAWU.

The excessive exploitation of the workers was made possible as a result of the failure of the Department of Labour in Worcester to enforce compliance with the law.

During negotiations earlier in November the company promised CSAAW that it would adhere to the BCEA. In return CSAAWU was prepared to negotiate a system to overcome bottlenecks in production. However instead of continuing negotiations the company resorted to an illegal lockout and to bring in labour from the poor community in Paarl.

The use of desperate labour from other communities is a way for owners to exploit the more and more desperate situation of the poor and unemployed in these times of economic crisis as a tool to create division within the working class and depress wages.

In response CSAAWU and the workers brought the case to the Labour Court. The Labour Court ruled in favour of the workers, and issued an interim interdict that ordered the company to reinstate the workers. The case will continue to be pursued by CSAAWU and the workers before the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) to deal with other labour issues (wages and working conditions).

The struggle will continue until the workers get back their work and work under conditions that comply with the BCEA.

In order win the struggle CSAAWU and the workers need support and solidarity from individuals, activists, social movements and progressive organisations.

For more information join CSAAWU on facebook. “Defend CSAAWU Campaign”

What kind of support does CSAAWU and the workers need?

* CSAAWU and workers at the Robertson Abattoir need to make their struggle known and publicised amongst other communities. This we can achieve by mobilizing solidarity campaigns, and spreading the message throughout our contacts in the media and other networks. A victory for CSAAW and workers will send a strong message to the employer and other farmers in the area who supply the animals to the abattoir. A victory for CSAAW and workers will strengthen the power of the working class and its unions throughout the region and it will be an important step in the struggle towards better working and living conditions for the rural working class.

* The case at the Labour Court concerning the interim interdict, ordering the company to reinstate the workers, will continue on the 25 January 2011 and the company intends to appeal. CSAAWU and the workers are not able to continue the court case without the aid and support of our comrades. Therefore we appeal for financial donations from comrades and sympatisers, so we are able to pay the costs of bringing the company to court and continue the struggle at legal level.

Banking details:
Name of account holder: CSAAWU
Standart Bank
Branch name: Tyger Manor; Branch code: 050410
Account number: 072003596


Even though the labour court have ruled in favour of the workers the company is still resisting letting the workers work at the abattoir, this is critical because each worker is responsible for supporting and feeding, on average, 6 people. The appeal is for donations of food as at the moment there is no food in the 50 households, which are now facing hunger and starvation.
* The main markets for the Robertson Abattoir meat are Woolworths and Excellent Meat. They need to be made aware that as citizens we will not put up with retailers who buy their commodities from companies that are treating their workers as slaves. We will start a campaign to expose this, and can start off by sending them protest letters.  Their contact details are as follows:

Woolworths Head Officel:

Tel: (021) 407 9111
Fax: (021) 4073939
(International callers
dial +27-21-407 9111)

Woolworths House
93 Longmarket Street
8001, Cape Town

Excellent Meat Corporation:

Tel +27 (0)21 929 7300 | 021 929 7300
Fax +27 (0) 21 931 7331

General Contact:
Jonathan Herbert
+27 (0) 21 929 7378
+27 (0) 83 252 0745

Epping Close, Elsies River Industria, 7490,
Cape Town, South Africa
PO Box 91, Elsies River, 7480




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