An EFF supporter backs striking workers outside Robertson Winery on Wednesday. The workers are on strike over a wage increase . Picture: THE TIMES
An EFF supporter backs striking workers outside Robertson Winery on Wednesday. The workers are on strike over a wage increase . Picture: THE TIMES

STRIKING workers at Robertson Winery, one of SA’s biggest wineries, have called on consumers to boycott Robertson wines after wage negotiations deadlocked on Thursday night.

Members belonging to the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (Csaawu) downed tools earlier this week, demanding a 57% wage hike. The company is offering an 8% increase.

Winery CEO Anton Cilliers said on Friday the call by the union for consumers to boycott Robertson wines would make the negotiations even more difficult.

However, the company remained hopeful that a resolution would be reached despite a deadlock in negotiations, said Cilliers.

"We are obviously far apart, but we are hopeful that we can reach an agreement soon."

Cilliers said the winery was operating at 30% capacity due to the strike, but consumers would not be affected as yet. The company has more than 300 staff, and most of them have stayed away from work.

"We have buffer stock … so consumers should still be able to find their wine on the shelves."

Csaawu general secretary Trevor Christians said on Friday the strike would intensify.

"Csaawu is appealing to its supporting organisation to produce their own support pamphlets and distribute them in front of Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Spar (and) outlets where Robertson wines are sold … we need a mass awareness campaign around why we should boycott Robertson wines during the strike," said Christians.

"It is time that farm workers have hope that after all, fundamental change is possible … this is a historical battle. We must win … it is possible, we can defeat this Goliath and restore the confidence of the poor and oppressed."