Agriculture, specifically the fruit industry plays a very significant role in South Africa’s economy and is uniquely dependent on a reliable transportation system.
This is an urgent plea to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) not to involve workers at ports and railways to join the strike by the road freight truck drivers. Reliable transport services for perishable products are vitally important for the fruit industry and the economy in general, and when they come to a halt, both the sector and the economy suffer. The South African fruit industry is a highly competitive, global industry which exports the bulk of its produce in turn earning vital foreign exchange for the country to the value of at least R12 billion per annum This helps to support our ability to be food secure i.e. we can import food that we either do not produce or are in short supply.
The South African fruit industry creates and supports many jobs mainly in rural areas. Around 460 000 people are employed full time in the fruit industry and two million people are dependent on their income. In May 2010, the fruit industry was the worst affected by the Transnet strike, losing R150 million on the exportation of fruit. Exporters of fruit could not deliver their produce to overseas retailers, wholesalers and importers thus jeopardising their sales programmes. The fruit industry’s supply chains were severely disrupted and in some cases export contracts were permanently lost. This will further result in job losses and ultimately a reduction in the production of fruit in our country and much leading economic growth and development.
The South African fruit industry acknowledges the rights of all workers as embedded in the South African bills of rights and the South African constitution. We do however request the trade unions and its members to consider the long term effects of this action and its potential impact on their fellow workers in the South African fruit industry as well as the many South Africans who hold out a hope of finding employment in a globally, competitive and sustainable South African fruit sector.
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