“We cannot afford for government to continue sleeping on the job. It needs to come with a clear program and plan to save and protect our fragile and strategic poultry industry. This needs to include the following as a matter of the highest urgency,” COSATU said in a statement.
COSATU added that the government should hold an urgent meeting with the poultry sector to develop an action plan to save jobs and put in place and enforce protective measures for the sector to block cheap imports and dumping.
“Our poultry industry is under severe pressure from the concessions government was forced to make to the United States to allow South Africa to remain part of the US’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement with African nations,” COSATU said.
“Now our industry is battling to keep its head above the water with the dumping of thousands of tons of heavily subsidized cheap chicken imports from the European Union and Brazil.”
According to reports, a total of 50,000 food and farm jobs could be lost following the influx of cheap chicken imports from the European Union (EU) countries. Rainbow Chickens Limited, the South Africa’s biggest chicken producer, indicated that it would retrench 1,350 farm workers and close four farms in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal.
COSATU said that this is reminiscent of the level of jobs lost when government allowed cheap Chinese imports to collapse South African textile industry in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the South African government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, has already said it was in discussions with the local poultry producers to address the challenges in the industry.