Leader of the EFF Julius Malema has called on Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies to intervene in the South African poultry industry, which is set to retrench its employees.
The EFF leader said “an increase in dumping of chicken imports” was the reason behind the decline in the country’s poultry industry.
“An increase in dumping of chicken imports is threatening, declining poultry farm industry and [resulting in job losses for] 100s of farmworkers,” said Malema in a letter he wrote to Davies.
Malema called on the minister to “impose” a 50% tariff on all chicken imports and also called for employees’ “share schemes which will result in poultry workers owning at least 50% of all poultry-production business”.
He further called on the government, provincial departments, municipalities and state-owned entities to “only buy locally produced chickens”.
“Given unemployment rate of 27.1%, the highest in 13 years, it’s crucial that we do everything to prevent further job losses.
“We believe that there should be a comprehensive and cogent plan and trade policy to protect the poultry industry.
“We write to the minister to request that you attend to the matter with the urgency and the sensitivity it requires.”
This comes after the country’s biggest chicken producer, Rainbow Chickens Limited, announced that it would be retrenching 1 350 farmworkers.
CEO of the Southern African Poultry Association Kevin Lovel said job losses in the poultry sector industry were due to the difficulties of competing with European Union (EU).
In an interview with Cape Talk, Lovel indicated that up to 20 000 workers would lose their jobs before year-end.
Cosatu, on the other hand, said it was deeply concerned by the pending jobs losses in the industry.
“Our poultry industry is under severe pressure from the concessions government was forced to make to the United States to allow South Africa to remain part of the US’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement with African nations,” Cosatu said in a statement.
“Now our industry is battling to keep its head above the water with the dumping of thousands of tons of heavily subsidised cheap chicken imports from the European Union and Brazil.”