South Africa: Strike brings Eastern Cape citrus operations to standstill

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South Africa: Strike brings Eastern Cape citrus operations to standstill

Update (June 5): The Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa (CGA) has released a statement criticizing "opportunistic political posturing" taking place.

The Sundays River Valley’s citrus industry in South Africa has reportedly been at a standstill since Thursday as workers demand a 13% salary increase.

Workers ranging from pickers to packers downed tools on Wednesday and have not returned to work since, Herald Live reported.

South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) representative Xolani Jonas said workers would return to work only once the employers agreed to the wage rise.

“The people...want 13% and there’s no changing that," he was quoted as saying.

The companies affected include the Sunday’s River Citrus Company, Unifruitti, Sun Citrus Packers, Citrus Run and Golden Ridge, according to the article.

Sundays River Citrus Company CEO Hannes de Waal reportedly said his company had offered workers a 10% increase last Saturday.

“Some of our workers desperately want to return to work because this strike has had devastating effects on their families,” he was quoted as saying. 

News agency GroundUp reported that the strike turned violent on Friday, resulting in police arresting seven people in Kirkwood. 

De Waal could not quantify the cost of the losses as a result of the strike but confirmed that it runs into millions, the article reported. He also reportedly alleged that the SANCO was inciting workers to strike.

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