THE SOUTH African Poultry Association (Sapa) has voiced concern about reports of forced labour and inhuman conditions in Brazil’s meat and poultry industries.
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of chicken and is the main source of chicken imports to South Africa. Sapa said the Brazilian imports included mechanically deboned meat and frozen chicken.
Washington-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade and Policy recently said that slave labour in Brazil’s poultry sector was “endemic ” and called for improved working conditions, labour rights and the implementation of employment contracts.
Sapa acting chief executive Charlotte Nkuna said yesterday that the organisation would ask the government to seek an urgent comment from the Brazilian government about the allegations.
“Thousands of South African workers have lost their jobs because of dumped chicken imports from countries, including Brazil, which has now been exposed as a country where workers aresubject to degrading working conditions and forced labour.
“These allegations come only months after Brazil’s rotten meat scandal. In May this year, many countries, including South Africa, banned imports of meat from some Brazilian producers following revelations of unsafe meat exports,” said Nkuna.
She said the government should implement an inspection requirement urgently, and Sapa would raise its concerns about reports of slave labour conditions with the International Poultry Council. South Africa and Brazil are members of the council.
The South African poultry industry has blamed imports for job losses and the EU and other regions for dumping.
Dumping takes place when an exporting country sells a product at a lower price than it sells it in its domestic market.
“We also hope the government will announce assistance for the establishment of local production facilities for mechanically deboned meat. This will create South African jobs and save the country huge amounts of foreign exchange, which currently goes to countries such as Brazil,” said Nkuna.
by Siseko Njobeni
First published in Pretoria News on 7th December 2017