Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bread...and Roses Too

The penalty imposed on Tiger Brands was too lenient, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said . On November 12, Tiger Brands was ordered to pay a R98,7-million fine by the Competition Commission after admitting to participating in bread and milling cartels.

"Bread in particular is a diet of the poorest and it is appalling that people should enrich themselves by robbing the poor," said Craven , Cosatu's national spokesperson .

Jody Kollapen of the SA Human Rights Commission said, "Bread is a basic commodity. The anti-competitive practices involving a basic commodity like bread disproportionately affects the poor. This illegal behaviour may violate the individual's right to sufficient food".

The fine imposed on Tiger amounted to 5.7 percent of its national turnover for bread operations for the 2006 financial year.

Bread producers and independent bakers had on several occasions between 1994 and 2006 agreed to and/or engaged in a concerted practice that they would increase bread prices by similar amounts at or about the same time. Also, the bread producers and independent bakeries colluded to close certain bakeries across the country between 1999 and 2001.
Another contravention involved milling of flour and maize both nationally and regionally, with produders and bakeries agreeing to raise regional and national prices of these commodities by similar amounts at or about the same.

Bread producers also colluded to reduce the discounts they would give independent distributors by similar amounts and on similar dates in December 2006. This amounted to price-fixing.

Rather than argue for fair prices , perhaps it may be a better idea to demand the abolition of prices . Not a struggle against excessive prices but a campaign for free access . Nor do we demand just a bigger slice of the cake , nor only the bakery but also the wheat-fields , too .

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