‘State must intervene’ in poultry crisis

CLUCKED: RCL has been hurt by cheap imports forcing 15 farms to close.Picture: Supplied

The European Union (EU) has come under fire as the poultry industry puts blame on “imports and dumping” for the closing of 15 Rainbow chicken farms, formerly hailed as South Africa’s biggest chicken producers and located in Hammarsdale, Durban.

The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) has lambasted the government for not intervening when thousands are readying themselves for unemployment.

RCL Foods announced the closure of 15 of the company’s 25 farms citing imports and dumping as the chief cause of RCL Foods failing to compete in an unfair market.

Fawu said that it is meeting with the government to discuss a way forward for the workers.

“We hope an intervention strategy will be agreed to and the sector will be saved. This will prevent further job losses. However for those who are retrenched, we hope that a new intervention will assist in ensuring re-employment and reinstatement,” it said.

The organisation called on the government to impose higher tariff rates, safeguard measures and anti-dumping duties from the EU.

“European union governments dump low-priced poultry’s brown (wings, thighs and drumsticks) portions and the local industry can’t compete,” the union said.

Katishi Masemola, Fawu general secretary, said that if the government fails to intervene then workers in Astral Chickens, Rainbow Chickens and Country Bird Chickens will lose their jobs in the thousands as a result.

RCL Foods is also Woolworths Foods biggest supplier.

Woolworths said that it believes its supply of chicken will not be impacted.

Although the group is concerned about the closing of RCL’s 15 farms, consumers will be provided with affordable products, it said.

The National Freedom Party said yesterday it was worried about the huge number of job losses South Africa could experience this year after the recent announcements of retrenchments in the poultry industry.

“We urge people to support local businesses and do away with imported chickens to save our jobs in the poultry industry,”.