A settlement agreement on February 9 has put an end to the 7-week strike by FAWU at ABI , an SAB-owned Coca-Cola bottler in South Africa. As part of the settlement, FAWU and ABI have agreed to enter into national-level talks no later than the end of March to discuss the use of labour brokers, agency workers and owner-operator drivers at the company. FAWU, whose principled objection to the use of agency labour is recorded in the settlement, has made it clear that if no progress is made on curbing precarious work at ABI it would continue campaigning around these abusive employment relations, including during the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
Under the terms of the agreement, ABI workers will receive a 7.8% across the board increase, an increase in the education allowance, and will be covered under an extended SAB housing allowance scheme. An important achievement of the strike is the settlement on overtime pay. ABI workers from now on will work Monday-Friday as normal time, and weekend work or hours worked on weekends (Saturday work) will be rewarded as overtime work which will provide them with a considerable income increase.
The settlement agreement also includes measures to protect workers involved in lawful strike activity from victimization. Any disciplinary action that the company wishes to undertake concerning alleged violence will be under the auspices of an independent mediator in order to ensure due process. The agreement also contains language intended to protect casual workers from disciplinary action and the loss of their employment as a result of participation in the strike. FAWU and the IUF will closely monitor these proceedings to guard against abuses and unfair dismissals as a result of the strike.
FAWU General Secretary Katishi Masemola saluted members for their difficult 7-week struggle on the picket lines and at mass rallies, and warmly thanked the many IUF members and supporters whose solidarity and messages to ABI management contributed to the final settlement.