Joint civil society statement on the Clover strike
- Lee-Anne Bruce
CALS joins a group of organisations supporting the demands of striking Clover workers and condemning the violence used against them
We, the undersigned organisations, activists and individuals fully support the demands of the 2000 workers who have embarked on a protected strike action against their Employer, Clover SA.
We condemn the imperialist connection between Clover SA and the Zionist Occupation of Palestine by the Israeli Regime.
We also fully support the boycott call not to buy the products of Clover SA
We hold both Clover SA and the SAPS jointly responsible for the death of the worker, Khilson Manaka on the evening of the 13th of October 2020.
We declare that we stand in solidarity with the over 2000 workers who have embarked on a protected strike against their employer, Clover SA. Clover workers have stood up and expressed in no unequivocal terms their demands for their strike, which demands include: an annual increase of 16% or of R2000 whichever is greater and an end to the exploitative practice of labour broking and job security for all workers. The workers are also demanding increases in allowances and other benefits which would improve in their conditions of work. As working class organisations and civil society we fully support the strike and view it as an effective instrument against poverty and exploitation under capitalism. We support the demands of the strike fully and in their totality. We recognise that this strike is a manifestation of workers power and requires working class solidarity to be won.
We are also firmly alive to the poverty wages currently imposed upon the striking workers as well as the relentless attacks on workers’ rights by Clover that justify this action. Clover is a vicious employer with a track record of arrogance and recklessness towards workers issues and rights. This arrogance and recklessness is reflected in the fact that workers have in total submitted 27 demands, indicating the merciless attack on their conditions of employment over time. Even after accumulating and hoarding profits over the years, Clover continues to pay workers paltry wages that are below the living wage. While Clover bosses where ‘working from home’’ Clover workers have risked their health by going to throughout the pandemic yet they are now at the receiving of the perpetual intransigence displayed by Clover Bosses.
We note that Clover SA remains untransformed and an organisation led by a small club of white men that is disconnected from the socio-economic realities of an overwhelming majority of employees, and this confirms Clover’s cowardly approach to workers’ demands. After months of refusing to negotiate the annual increases Clover only managed to do so after GIWUSA dragged it to the negotiating table by referring a dispute at the CCMA. It was only at this time that they offered a paltry wage increase, which was an unmitigated insult to workers who have seen the cost of living skyrocket over the past year.
We have also noticed that there is national agenda on the part of the ruling class, that is both the South African State and Capital, to make the working class and the poor pay the price of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both the state and capital are hell bent on dragging down the wage levels of the employed working class by unilaterally imposing wage freezes and reneging on multi-year agreements and refusing to implement wage increase agreements like in the case of the public sector, the metal and engineering sectors and in municipalities. Accompanying the frontal assault on wage levels is the brutal jobs bloodbath. More than two million workers have lost their jobs over the past five months. The jobs bloodbath and wage attacks are elements of the strategy of the ruling class to impose upon the working class and the poor, the burden of Covid-19 pandemic while getting away unscathed by the perpetual economic crisis of neoliberal capitalism.
It is also not lost to the memory of the public and the striking workers themselves that Clover SA is an instrument of Israeli imperialism. Both civil society and workers of Clover remain vehemently opposed to the acquisition of Clover by MILCO, a company owned by Central Bottling Company (CBC) and based in Israel. CBC operates in the Occupied Territories of Palestine-the Bantustans of apartheid Israel – and the company supports the racist practices of the Israel Regime and has political and economic ties to the fascists Israeli Regime which is responsible for countless atrocities against the Palestinian masses. It is only through these ties and support of the fascist Israeli Regime that CBC can operate in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. MILCO and Clover, by its association with CBC, is complicit in the oppression and violation of the people of Palestine. As organisations of civil society we remain in solidarity with the Palestinian people and calls for solidarity with their historic struggle for justice. We unequivocally condemn this racist association with Clover SA.
We also condemn the South African Police Services for the role it played in the death of Khilson Manaka and call for swift justice against the police officers whose actions led to his tragic passing. We hold both the Police and Clover responsible for the cowardly and barbaric attempts to crush the strike. It was the ever trigger happy police officers who for no reason showed up at the picket in an attempt to disrupt the peaceful picket and would go on to indiscriminately spray rubber bullets onto the backs of the dispersing workers. Despite these atrocities, the police continue to act as Clover’s private security company by provoking and intimidating the workers who are peacefully picketing at Clayville. We demand the total withdrawal of all police officers and the cessation of any involvement of the South African Police Services in this protected strike.
We stand in full support of the consumer boycott of Clover Products called for by GIWUSA in support of the strike. We call on members of the public to not buy the products of Clover. This boycott is not only critical to the strike but is the best way in which the masses can express their disgust at Clover’s treatment of workers and opposition to Clover SA Zionist imperialist association.
We also encourage the public and organisations to explore other forms of solidarity including writing letters to the Clover CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the workers at the picket line at Clover premises around the country.
- Palestinian Solidarity Campaign
- Simunye Workers Forum
- Khanya College
- Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee
- International Socialist Alternative (With sections in over 30 Countries)
- COVID-19 People’s Coalition