The costly strike at the VKB Group’s processors in Reits, Frankfort and Mokopane has finally come to an end.
This after the National Union of Food, Beverage, Wine, Spirits, and Allied Workers (NUFBWSAW) agreed to management’s offer after three long months of unpaid strike.
Employees at Grain Field Chickens in Reitz, Free State had independently drafted a new proposal that would get them back to work after the union insisted they wait until the company agrees to their original memorandum.
The proposal referenced the previous memorandum, stating that the workers still expected a salary increase come January 2024.
They have been demanding, among others, a 13th cheque and R500 salary increment dating back to April 2023 when they downed the tools.
The employees highlighted that they were ready to return to their duties as soon as possible if the employer allowed them to remain under the union they are affiliated to.
They further stated in the new proposal that as they return to work, no one who took part in the strike should be charged by the employer.
“Employees are requesting that [they] be given a 13th cheque as the issues of them being shareholders are not working for them. They are not benefitting from that arrangement,” reads the proposal.
“They also want forced overtime [to] be relooked or rather the employer to inform them on time for such overtimes.”
After several engagements, NUFBWSAW softened up to the offered deal so the union members would return to work.
All employees back at work
George Germishuys, VKB Group spokesperson, confirmed late on Monday afternoon that all the employees had returned to work.
“NUFBWSAW has accepted the initial terms presented by the employer, and as of 13 November 2023, these terms are binding on all NUFBWSAW members employed at VKB,” said Germishuys.
“It is important to note that this agreement is specific to NUFBWSAW and its members. A collective agreement with other unions has already been reached, signed and implemented.
“The terms of the agreement apply to all employees within task grade 1-11, who are members of NUFBWSAW and are employed by VKB Group.”
He told Sunday World that the company was always looking to act in good faith and mutual fairness towards all its employees.
The company had always been ready to welcome back all its employees that had been on strike once they had accepted the offer brought forth by the company, he added.
According to Germishuys, no employee would be subjected to a disciplinary hearing unless they committed an offence during the strike.
“We appreciate the cooperation of all parties involved in reaching this resolution and look forward to continued positive working relationships with all employees,” he said.
Piquant Security, which was hired to protect the premises during the strike, has also left after calm was restored.