The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of South Africa (BDS SA), in partnership with other Palestine solidarity groups, will together with the General Industries Workers Union Of South Africa (GIWUSA) develop a way forward to build a united front of workers and Palestine solidarity groups in opposition to the controversial “Clover Deal”.
The president of GIWUSA, Sebei Mametlwe says that the union is appealing the recent decision by the Competition Tribunal to approve the deal. He says the tribunal completely ignored and disregarded their submission.
GIWUSA previously called on the Competition Commission of South Africa to refuse to sanction the takeover of Clover by a corporate consortium led by Israeli-based company, Central Bottling Company (CBC). The takeover, dubbed as the “Clover Deal”, has been widely opposed by many groups in South Africa on moral, economic and international relations principles.
The decision to approve the takeover was taken on 25 September 2019 and the case is listed on the Competition Tribunal’s website as a “large merger” involving Milco SA And Clover Industries. The “merger” was approved subject to conditions – details can be found on the Competition Tribunal’s website.
According to previous reports by VOC, Milco is a consortium led by Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) which is said to be complicit in human rights abuses and violations of international law.
CBC holds operations in Israel’s illegal settlements located in both the occupied Palestinian West Bank as well as the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
“We are appealing the decision of the tribunal because we think the tribunal completely ignored our submission. In their judgement, there is absolutely nothing that references our principled position in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine,” said Mametlwe.
“That issue, for us, is not a secondary matter – it’s at the core of the very foundation of the trade union movement in this country and worldwide: the principle of working-class solidarity that when workers are injured anywhere, it’s an injury to workers everywhere.
We think that ruling is liable to be challenged at the level of an appeal, so we’ve instructed lawyers at that level to do that.”
Mametlwe indicated that the union is mobilising members and planning a national meeting between shop stewards of the Clover workers. GIWUSA wants to build a united front of workers that, along with Palestinian solidarity groups, can launch a campaign both at the workplace and nationally.
Mametlwe also noted that GIWUSA remains concerned with the long-term job security of workers at Clover and about the impact the “merger” will have on their jobs.
READ MORE | Consumer boycott against Clover looming
“The company has indicated that over 500 jobs will be on the line, and that, to us, is a serious threat to the livelihood and security of employment of our members,” said Mametlwe.
“For me, this is a company that isn’t just Israeli. It’s a company directly involved in a Jewish settlement that is established by displacing the poor people of Palestine in a colonial style land-grab and invasion. We cannot have people complicit in what has been defined as a crime against humanity and as an imperialist colonial project allowed to take over our key assets and companies in this country. This is a problem and it needs to be challenged.”
A recent press statement by BDS SA explained that, “While BDS SA had initially intended on embarking on a nationwide boycott and protest, we are of the view that this group of organisations [GIWUSA, Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the South African Jews for a Free Palestine] have sufficiently and thoroughly considered the situation as well as developed concrete proposals, including lodging a formal legal appeal to the Competition Commission.”
The statement continued, saying that with all things considered, BDS SA would support the mentioned organisations in their lead on the Clover campaign.
BDS SA clarified, however, that although they are not leading a boycott campaign as of yet, “BDS SA is not discouraging anybody in their individual capacity from buying more ethical alternatives.”
The tribunal’s order and the full set of conditions is available on the tribunal’s website at https://www.comptrib.co.za/case-detail/8701