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'Dumping behind SA's poultry crisis'

The South African Poultry Association says imports are causing job losses and are a threat to the long-term survival of the sector.

FILE: Picture: freeimages.com.

PARLIAMENT - The South African Poultry Association says the crisis in the industry is not about its competitiveness, but about rampant dumping, mainly from European Union countries.

Association CEO Keith Lovell says government needs to act to protect the industry.

He told Parliament's trade and industry committee that while consumers benefit from cheaper chicken prices, imports are causing job losses and are a threat to the long-term survival of the sector.

The Department of Trade and Industry has set up a task team to address the problems, but Lovell says not enough is being done and the industry is contracting.

“The collective actions taken to date have not been effective. We’re shrinking.”

The committee is holding hearings on the crisis in the industry, which has already shed jobs, and with more jobs said to be on the line.

WORKER CONCERNS

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is urging the government to take strong action to prevent further job losses in the poultry sector.

The trade union federation wants higher tariffs imposed on imported chicken portions that the industry claims is hitting producers’ hard in the pocket.

Cosatu and its affiliate, the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu), spelt out workers’ concerns about the state of the industry during hearings at Parliament on Thursday.

The poultry industry supports nearly 50,000 direct jobs and 130,000 more indirectly.

Cosatu’s Matthew Parks says the country can’t afford to lose one of them and that the government should act to save the sector.

“We don’t know how importing thousands of tons of chickens helps with industrialisation. How does it create local jobs? In fact ,it just creates jobs in the EU, Brazil and the US and so on…”

Cosatu is calling for action against dumping, higher import tariffs and quotas for European countries and Brazil.

Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola says it’s critical to preserve poultry sector jobs which are mostly in peri-urban and rural areas, offering a lifeline to semi-skilled workers.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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