Boozers relief as govt stops beer strike

via Boozers relief as govt stops beer strike 16 July 2014

A WILD-CAT strike by workers in the beverages sector was Wednesday averted after the swift  intervention of Labour and Social Services Minister, Nicholas Goche.

The industrial action by the sector’s 13,000 employees would have hit blue-chip Delta Beverages and negatively impacted on taxes at a time the government needs every cent it can get.

Imbibers around the country would, no doubt, have been affected as well as any prolonged production stoppage would likely have seen them resort to more pricey imported beverages.

Workers from the Brewing and Distilling Workers Union of Zimbabwe, represented by their umbrella body the United Food and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe (UFAWUZ), last month gave notice to go on strike after negotiations for a salary review stalled.

The workers were demanding a minimum wage of around $570, some $50 above the country’s poverty datum line.

However the industry, represented by the Brewing and Distilling Employers Association, declared they had no capacity for such an increment, citing low business.

Led by Delta Beverages, the employers a week ago made representations to Goche and pleaded with him to intervene and help stop the potentially damaging industrial action.

Early Wednesday, Goche called a crisis meeting between the warring parties and hammered out an agreement that stopped the strike, hours before it was due to begin.

Addoniah Mutero, UFAWUZ secretary general confirmed the meeting had taken place adding they had agreed to temporarily stop the industrial action that could have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars and, consequently, jobs in the future.

“Goche has pleaded with workers to give negotiations a chance because the employers are now willing to talk again than the rigid stance they had taken,” said Mutero.

“However, I must say that this is just a temporary reprieve for the employers because, if they are not serious, our membership are ready to down tools as soon as we blow the whistle.

“Over 99 per-cent of our membership in the brewery sector have voted in favour of a strike action.”

Mutero said the workers representatives and employers will be meeting Goche again to negotiate and “we will demand that they show the minister their financial statements in order to authenticate their claims of lack of capacity to pay”.

“We want transparency and if they are not hiding anything then they should not have any problems showing Goche details of their incomes. That should clear the air for all of us,” he said.

Goche was not available for comment by late Wednesday.