Trade unionists and major players in the South African poultry landscape have found common ground – signing a pledge to combat “chicken dumping” and turn around the floundering industry.
Dumping refers to selling a product below cost of local production and the import of fowl from the European Union has prompted the shedding of thousands of jobs in the local chicken industry.
Advocacy group FairPlay brokered the pledge‚ which was signed in Durban at the weekend.
FairPlay founder Francois Baird said that his organisation was formed to combat a single issue.
“Toward the end of last year‚ people with investments in the chicken industry approached me and said they needed a PR campaign because dumped chicken was destroying the local market.”
“I said that the issue of chicken dumping was not going to be remedied by a PR campaign and suggested they find an advocacy organisation to take up the cause…we looked around and we couldn’t find one…so that is where the FairPlay Anti-dumping movement comes from‚” he said.
Baird added that the collateral damage of dumping had been widespread job losses and the withering of the local poultry market.
“The European Union sells chicken in South Africa below cost and that is dumping and we believe that it should be outlawed completely‚” he said.
“We are not out to protect capital and we have absolutely nothing against free and competitive trade but we are fighting for those people who stand to lose their jobs as a result of dumping.”
“The purpose of today is that the trade union and representatives from the South African poultry industry will sign a pledge to transform the industry once it is successful again.
“There is no point in bringing new people into a failing industry…you would simply be setting them up for failure.
“Traditionally the argument is that this is cheap chicken for the poor but a person who is unemployed can’t buy chicken at any price‚” Baird added.
Katishi Masemola‚ of the Food and Allied Workers Union‚ said that the pledge was welcomed by those whose jobs were under threat.
“It is good news that the industry has pledged to transform. The pledge will aid in whittling down the excuses for an untransformed industry that have been preferred by some‚” he said.
“The focus can now be on defending the jobs that remain and also defending the industrial capacity.
“The world over‚ dumping is considered as the antithesis of fair trade so as a Union we will be part of an effort and campaign to combat this‚” Masemola said.
– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE
by Jeff Wicks
First published in Times Live on 07 May 2017