JOHANNESBURG – SABMiller PLC said Monday its beer operations in South Africa are operating as usual, unaffected by a strike over pay at the company’s soft drinks unit.
About 120 workers at South African Breweries Ltd., which produces brands including Castle Lager and Miller Genuine Draft, joined a rally held by some 600 members of the Food and Allied Worker’s Union in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton, the company said.
It dismissed a claim by the union that three breweries in the central province of Gauteng would close while workers attended the gathering, during which a memorandum was handed to company management.
The company said only about 45% of unionized FAWU members have joined the strike that began Dec. 22, primarily at its Amalgamated Beverage Industries Ltd. unit, one of the largest producers and distributors of Coca-Cola Co. (KO) brands in the southern hemisphere.
ABI Managing Director John Ustas said that despite incidences of violence at some depots, there has been limited disruption to the soft drinks firm’s operations since the strike began.
The union earlier Monday estimated some 3,000 members would take part in the rally and that it would force the closure of some beer plants. It has rejected an across-the-board 7.8% pay increase, which SABMiller has said marks an 8.3% increase including benefits, and is sticking with demands for a 9.5% wage hike, 45-hour week and overtime pay on Saturdays.
Negotiations are set to resume Wednesday, facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.