Victory for working class voices in court; battle for living wage continues on the picket line
Six weeks ago, more than 300 members of GIWUSA went on strike at frozen vegetables and chips manufacturer Nature’s Garden. Their reasonable demands included a living wage for every worker and an end to the company’s outsourcing of labour.
After WASP publicly called for support of the striking workers, the company responded by coming after us with their lawyers. They claimed that our statement of solidarity was an act of defamation. In the official court documents, they stated that we were harming their reputation with phrases such as:
and of course, our favourite:
We refused to be silenced in our support and were summoned to court where Nature’s Garden requested an urgent interdict against us, along with GIWUSA and SAFTU. As mentioned in our previous update, we made our stand to defend the voice of the worker in the class struggle.
The judge has since dismissed the application and ordered Nature’s Garden to pay legal costs.
Threats and intimidation are nothing out of the ordinary for the bosses of Nature’s Garden. Two weeks ago, workers reported that the company’s hired goons were shooting at them in addition to harassing them with dogs and racist insults. Today news has come from the picket lines that some of the private security guards are being arrested following these escalations.
It should come as no surprise that the company falls back to these spineless tactics to avoid facing workers at the negotiation table. The bosses in charge of Nature’s Garden are part of a capitalist system that promotes violence to keep workers in line. This violence has many forms. It can be the shooting of a worker by private security, petitioning the state to silence supporters through the courts, or simply stealing from workers with poverty wages.
The only way to counter this violence is through mass action. The working class cannot rely on bourgeois state institutions to protect them. While workers work constantly to keep society functioning, capitalists work to uphold and corrupt a system that benefits them in the end analysis. A roll of the dice could have meant a judge hostile to labour in the court case ruling the other way, or a corrupt police chief taking money to ignore assaults on workers. To be sure, today’s judgement in favour of the working upholds rights workers have fought and died for since the early days of Apartheid. We have witnessed already with the 2018 LRA amendments how far the capitalist class will go to attack these rights. They cannot not be taken for granted and must be defended at all costs.
The working class needs to take control of its own fate. It must continue to organise and unite struggles across companies and sectors, communities and youth. It must continue to fight for a society free of exploitation, on the basis of solid working class political theory.
In the meantime, we continue to call on everyone to:
- Intensify the boycott by continuing to not buy these products and letting others know not to buy them. Many activists have placed stickers on these products to indicate to shoppers that there is an ongoing boycott. Nature’s Garden products include Nature’s Garden, Greens, Golden Harvest, Pick n Pay, Pick n Pay No Name, Makro M Brand and Spar; and in the fast food and restaurant trade, Nature’s Garden supplies KFC, Spur, Captain DoRegos, Nando’s, King Pie, Bidfood and Barcelos.
- Post negative reviews on Nature’s Garden Facebook page explaining the callous treatment of workers: www.facebook.com/naturesgardenfrozenveg
- Post negative reviews on Piquant Security’s FB page exposing their Marikana like tactics towards strike breaking: https://www.facebook.com/Piquant-Security-357759381620349/reviews/
- Send letters of protest to Nature’s Garden CEO: email@example.com
- Call Nature’s Garden on (+27) 011 864 5000 and complain that we have received reports that they’re intimidating workers on strike and spending money on frivolous lawsuits and armed mercenaries when they could be meeting workers at the negotiation table.
- Join the picketing workers in solidarity at 24 Beryllium Street, Alberton.
We also say to the heartless bosses at Nature’s Garden: