ABI to engage cosatu on salary dispute

SOFT drinks company ABI has vowed to continue seeking the intervention ofCosatu and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in the wage labour dispute between itself and the Food and Allied Workers Union.

ABI communications manager Robyn Chalmers said yesterday the company wrote a letter to Cosatu but had not received any response.

The meeting between the CCMA and ABI will take place today.

According to ABI the ongoing strike action has been characterised by violence and intimidation.

"Over the weekend more acts of violence were reported, including a shooting in Durban and a charge of attempted murder," Chalmers said.

She said the company had not dismissed anyone yet as the process was still unfolding.

ABI said it would go into discussions with Fawu at the CCMA meeting to get the union to adhere to strike rules and to halt violence and intimidation tactics.

The meeting follows ABI's accusations against Fawu of unfair strike action, which included petrol bombing delivery vehicles and intimidation of non-striking employees. This also included intimidating anonymous calls to employees' families and the stoning of ABI and private vehicles.

Workers are demanding a 9,5percent wage increase while the company is offering 8,3percent.

Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said: "We hear these allegations of violence made by ABI management but on our side we don't have evidence.

"Until they provide us with evidence we will regard these claims as allegations and nothing else."

Asked if they would consider decreasing their demand, Masemola said the union would be "flexible" if a new offer is made.

"Notices of a secondary strike have been sent to the beer division of SAB and to the other three bottling companies of Coca-Cola products in South Africa such as Coca-Cola Fortune, Coca-Cola Canners and Coca-Cola Shanduka," Masemola said.

"This seven-day notice lapses on January 6 (tomorrow) and our members in those companies will be at liberty to embark on a secondary strike and other protest activities like picketing, demonstrations and marches."

He said that they would be getting solidarity from other international unions through petitions and various actions.