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Dumping chicken in SA puts many dreams on hold and jobs on the line

BUSI Zungu is sad. She had great plans for her future, but since she lost her job as a worker in the chicken industry at the end of January, things are looking bleak. A mother of two and grand – mother of five, Busi was the sole bread winner of the Zungu fam ily and had worked at her job for 18 years, un til the dumping of EU chicken put a choke hold on her employers. She and her husband are separated.

 

It is raining out side and the wind howls around the corners of the house. Built on the edge of a ravine, the house has a spectacular view over the Val ley of a Thou sand Hills, but it’s not well built and it needs to be reinforced.

 

With out an in come that is not going to hap pen soon. Neither will Busi be able to pro vide the tertiary education she had dreamt of for her children. Busi now sits at home in Phumlani, in the town ship of Hammarsdale, frustrated at being idle.

 

She is un sure if she will get an other job be cause of her age and doesn’t know where to start looking. She is hoping some of the sup port measures which her employers have implemented will help – such as the introduction to the Lima Rural Development Foundation which can assist with skills transfer.

 

In the mean while, she has built an extra room that she wants to rent out. “I can get be tween R250 and R300 a month,” she says. But this won’t re place her monthly salary. Her house is on a slope, so she needs an earth moving machine to make more space to build extra rooms. “I am scared to use my en- tire severance package on this. What if the rooms stay empty and the rent doesn’t come?”
Dumping chicken in SA puts many dreams on hold and jobs on the line Dumping chicken in SA puts many dreams on hold and jobs on the line In her younger years she sold meat and clothes door-to-door. “I thought of doing that again, but no one is working, so they don’t have money to buy any thing,” she says.

 

Her son is a casual at Boxer tobacco and he re ports a noticeable slow down in business. “He says it is only busy on grant day now.” It is clear the retrenchments are having a negative effect on other businesses too. Busi and her family show the harsh reality of what hap pens be cause EU producers dump chicken in South Africa at way under the production cost.

 

Because of finicky eaters in Europe who only want breast meat, unwanted leg quarters are dumped at lower than the production cost, with- out the low prices being passed on to consumers. All it does is to flood the market and sup press prices, which cause local production to be cut and workers to be retrenched. The SA Poultry Association estimates that for every 10 000 tons of chicken dumped here, 1 000 local jobs are lost.

 

The chicken industry employs some 110 000 people who could end up unemployed like Busi. An other 20 000 people who work in the grain industry – which supplies chicken feed to South Africa’s chicken farmers – could end up in the same boat if the industry collapses. If Busi spends her money wisely, her severance package can last a year, but, in a bitter irony, her children can’t have eggs for breakfast…

This article was written by Fairplay Movement and published in the Saturday Star, 1st April 2017

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