Unilever South Africa is experiencing its tenth day of strikes

Unilever South Africa is experiencing its tenth day of strikes

A Unilever plant in South Africa has entered a tenth day of industrial action as 220 staff refuse to return to work due to a dispute over pay.

The strike at its Pietermaritzburg site started on 17 January and a spokesperson at Unilever confirmed that industrial action is ongoing (27 January) as the two parties negotiate an agreement.

A statement issued by the FAWU union representing the workers stated: "FAWU could not reach agreement with both Unilever SA (Tea Factory) and Unilever Food Solutions. At Unilever Tea Factory, the union and the company deadlocked on a wage increase where the company offers 6% and the union demands 9%. At Unilever Food Solutions, the union demands 10% while the company offers 6%".

The two parties also deadlocked on another issue at the food site. At present Unilever Pietermaritzburg operates two grades in its canister department and label operator department of autonomous operator and universal operator. According to the statement, the company plans to introduce a third low-level general operator position at a "forcefully implemented new grading of R3500".

"Slowly these young GO's will replace all the older members that are paid at better grades. At the end of the day they will be able to run the company with the most people at the very lowest paid grade. We should also bear in mind that this is the lowest paid division in all Unilever companies," read the statement.

Nobody at Unilever Pietermaritzburg was immediately available to comment on the allegations when approached by just-food.