Workers threaten to intensify wage strike

Workers affiliated to the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) are threatening to intensify their wage strike in Woodstock.

The workers are picketing outside stationery and office furniture supplier Bidvest Waltons’ head office in Woodstock, demanding a 9% salary increase and rejecting the employers’ 6.09% offer.

The action has forced the company to close a number of its branches since yesterday.

The company has branches in areas including Constantia, Tygervalley, Claremont, Waterfront and Stellenbosch.

Workers in other parts of the country such as East London and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape are apparently also on strike.

“The (6.09%) is too little, everything is going up. We are paying rent, we cannot survive on a minimum salary of R7500,” said an employee who asked not to be named, fearing victimisation.

Ceppwawu organiser, Andrew Nortje, said earlier today the workers were willing to meet the company halfway, at 8% but would intensify the action if an agreement is not reached.

“We will intensify the strike on Monday by picketing outside the other branches,” said Nortje.

Meanwhile, Cosatu provincial secretary, Malvern de Bruyn addressed the workers today and pledged the federation’s support.

The company’s human resources’ manager, Samantha Britnell, would not comment, saying the company and the union had agreed not to speak to the media until the end of the strike.

The union denied this.