EFF leader, Julius Malema has called on South Africans to patronise locally produced chickens so as to help boost the country’s economy and create more jobs.
The leader who seems concerned by the long growing unemployment rate including the additional 1 350 poultry workers planned to be retrenched, said this can be avoided if all South Africans begin to patronize locally produced chickens as he blames the rise on an increased dumping of chicken imports.
Malema’s comment follows report by Rainbow Chickens Limited (the country’s biggest chicken producer) indicating that it would retrench 1 350 farm workers and close four farms in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal.
The reports also indicated that a total of 50 000 food and farm jobs could be lost following the influx of cheap chicken imports from the European Union (EU) countries.
In a letter directed to Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, Malema called on the government to intervene in the South African poultry industry, which is set to retrench its employees.
He said government can salvage the situation if it “imposes” 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”.
“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,” he added.
Cosatu has also slammed the SA government for its deafening silence on the situation which demands utmost national concern.
“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.
“Now our industry is battling to keep its head above the water with the dumping of thousands of tons of heavily subsidized cheap chicken imports from the European Union and Brazil,” the trade union said as it called on government to wake up and provide the necessary leadership to save this industry.
“We cannot afford for government to continue sleeping on the job. It needs to come with a clear programme and plan to save and protect our fragile and strategic poultry industry.”
The Trade union also proposed that government hold an urgent meeting with the poultry sector to develop an action plan to save jobs, enhance the production of locally produced chickens, and put in place and enforce protective measures for the sector to block cheap imports and dumping.
It also suggests that government should consider subsidizing the poultry and agricultural sector in particular new and emerging farmers, large-scale employers, and farmers who champion progressive labour relations.