GIWUSA Demands Immediate Shutdown of Clover SA Bloemfontein Plant After Confirmed COVID-19 Infections of Workers


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General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA) demands the immediate closure and shutdown of all operations at Clover SA’s Bloemfontein plant. GIWUSA condemns Clover’s handling of the confirmed infections and holds it responsible for the hazardous and untenable conditions that have resulted. It is clear that Clover is choosing profits over the health and safety of its own workers however GIWUSA members will not allow themselves to be sacrificed at the alter of capitalist accumulation.

It has been brought to GIWUSA’s attention that five workers have now tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bloemfontein factory and this directly emanates from the employer’s greed and negligence. This number is likely to rise as more than 300 workers could have been exposed and as more workers await their results. GIWUSA has learnt with outrage that Clover SA is demanding that workers who have tested positive and workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 continue reporting for work while waiting for their test results. GIWUSA is firmly convinced that Clover’s wanton disregard for workers health and safety is what led to the spread of infections and exposure of other workers in the plant.

When the first case was reported Clover management did absolutely nothing to ensure that physical distancing was observed and ensure that the infected workers could be quarantined with guarantees of their incomes. GIWUSA has also learnt that the employer only carried out testing of all its employees only after two workers had already tested positive for the virus and had been required to report to work instead of self-isolating. This is certainly what has now led to the rapid spread of the virus at the plant.

Clover’s conduct is sickening and can only lead to a disaster of unimaginable proportions. GIWUSA condemns Clover’s actions and calls on the Department of Labour to hold Clover responsible for this blatant violation of its health and safety obligations. As the country’s biggest dairy company Clover has also put millions of people’s lives at risk as its product would have been susceptible to contamination. GIWUSA further calls for criminal investigations into Clover’s conduct and the prosecution of those criminally responsible for this homicidal fetish beginning with those who sanctioned these hazardous conditions.

GIWUSA demands full testing of workers at all Clover facilities across the country. GIWUSA further demands the total closure of these facilities if a single worker is tested positive or suspected to have come into contact with an infected person. GIWUSA demands the full payment of wages and hazard allowances to all workers, whether infected or not, as a result of Clover’s negligence. We reiterate that there shall be no loss of a single cent of pay arising from Clover’s criminal conduct.

However GIWUSA does not operate under the illusion that Clover SA has the motivation or the will to take even the most basic of steps to create a healthy and reasonably safe working environment for workers. The events of the past weeks have demonstrated that the bosses at Clover are only concerned with amassing profits even during the time of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. GIWUSA’s members will therefore be excercising their rights to refuse to work in the hazardous and unsafe environment. As a precondition of returning to work GIWUSA demands that workers first be satisfied that the working conditions are safe and will collectively make the decision to return. This process should only be carried on independently by workers themselves.

Finally to remedy the ravaging crisis in Clover, once and for all, GIWUSA demands the immediate nationalisation of Clover under the democratic control of all Clover’s workers to guarantee safe working conditions for all. Only on this basis can Clover serve an essential role in society by producing food for the needs of millions of our people who are today starving, as opposed to lining up the pockets of the bosses and the profiteers.

Amandla!

For more information please contact the following:
Mametlwe Sebei: 0813680706
Charles Phahla: 0828895768
Vuyo Mapompo: 0782353391

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