| PORT ELIZABETH

Aspen workers on strike across Eastern Cape

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Employees want 10% versus company offer of 7%

Photo of Aspen strike
Striking Aspen Pharmacare employees picket outside the company in Port Elizabeth. Photo: Joseph Chirume
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Aspen Pharmacare workers in the Eastern Cape have been on strike since last week. Their main demand is a 10% increase. Aspen, the country’s largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer, is offering a 7% increase.

The workers downed tools last week Thursday in East London and Port Elizabeth factories. They have been picketing outside the company’s factories. Thulani Radasi, spokesperson for the South African Chemical Workers Union (Sacwu), told GroundUp that nearly 1,200 people were on strike. A few hundred people could be seen picketing outside the Port Elizabeth factory on Tuesday.

Aspen Pharmacare is the country’s largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Radasi told GroundUp the strike was protected. “Employees have many demands but top of the list is the mandated 10% workers are demanding … This increase is across all labour divisions.”

Radasi said workers were also demanding better working conditions. Workers who had been with the company for more than ten years were still regarded as contract workers. Sacwu, said Radasi, would like them to be employed full time and be paid benefits from previous years.

Radasi also accused the company of refusing to allow shop stewards to enter company premises.

In May, Aspen workers embarked on a week-long unprotected strike but Aspen won a court order forcing the workers to abandon the strike.

Shauneen Beukes, the company’s head of communication, said the company was in discussions with the the union.

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