South African trade union confederation says “SABMiller was built on the back and by the hard work of the South African workers”.

A South African worker wears a shirt spoofing Black Label beer. The slogan says "Black Labour, White Guilt".

A South African worker wears a shirt spoofing Black Label beer. The slogan says “Black Labour, White Guilt”. Photo by Byron Loker

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has condemned the takeover deal between brewing giants SABMiller and AB InBev.

The merger between the world’s two biggest brewers was agreed for £68 billion. The new company will produce about a third of the world’s beer.

COSTAU, in a statement issued in support of its affiliate, the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), said that “SABMiller was built on the back and by the hard work of the South African workers and they deserve to be heard and given assurances with respect to the security of their jobs.”

SABMiller is the product of a previous merger between South African Breweries and Miller, leading to the company being listed in London. COSATU has criticised this deal, saying it has lead to capital leaving the country to the detriment of the local economy.

The statement calls on the South African government, local and international regulators and the South African state employees’ pension fund investor, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), not to ratify the deal.

The statement goes on to say that the “merger will affect both the tax revenue and the job security of the workers.

“The once off inflow of foreign capital, to shareholders, is not enough if the long term effects of the deal will be the loss of tax revenue and jobs. The manner in which the deal was done give emphasis to the fact that the whole exercise is not meant to work for the country and its people.

“We have learnt over the years,that during these deals, monopoly capital places profits before decent work, avoids paying taxes and they go to war on workers, their rights, job security, and workplace safety. They demand the right to dismiss workers, when it suits them, and they are forever ready to exploit the tragedy of youth unemployment to pay even lower wages.

“This deal is a reminder that the balance of class forces favours white monopoly capital in the home front and imperialism on an international stage. Our subdued economic situation is linked to the imbalanced trade and investment connections of South Africa with some Western economies.

“Buy sinking their claws to the South African economy these countries will suck South Africa into the whirlpool of their predictable future global crisis. We will never manage to address the internal fault-lines inherited from colonialism and Apartheid, if we give monopoly capital free reign.”


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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