JOHANNESBURG – Chicken imports flooding the market could see a jobs’ bloodbath. This comes as Rainbow Chicken announced it was going to cut production at its Hammarsdale facility in KwaZulu-Natal, by half.
Local producers of chicken blame the existing free trade agreement between South Africa and the Eueopean Union, saying more jobs will be lost if government does not insist on an even playing field.
Furthermore, the poultry industry and labour unions are concerned about looming retrenchments. Experts say for every 10,000 tons of chicken imported just over 1000 jobs could be lost.
The Food and Allied Workers Union has warned that at least 5,000 workers could soon find themselves without work, due to cheap chicken imports.
“The chicken that is been dumped from the EU jurisdiction is essentially dumped at a price that are ridiculously low and below the cost of production on average in the EU jurisdiction,” said the union’s general secretary Katishi Masemola.
A record volume, particularly of chicken portions mostly from Europe has forced the local industry to harden its stance and Fawu wants government to intervene.
‘In terms of the WTO rules when there is dumping they’ve got the right to evoke some clauses and intervene. We think they should call for a round of discussions with the EU in order to review the situation,” Masemola added, but the state maintained that due process would have to be followed to renegotiate trade agreements.
The union is planning marches to the EU offices and Parliament to protest against the imports.