Business Maverick, South Africa

Casualties of Cola: Outsourcing, Exploitation and the New Reality Of Work

By Daily Maverick Chronicle 6 December 2015

Inaugural Daily Maverick Chronicle feature investigates outsourcing and exploitation of South African owner-drivers by the world's biggest beverage companies. By DAILY MAVERICK CHRONICLE.

Beverage behemoth SABMiller and its subsidiary, Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI), one of the African continent’s leading bottlers of Coca-Cola products, are being sued for over R6 billion in damages by 150 owner-drivers (ODs) whose contracts were axed by the company over the last five years.

These ex-entrepreneurs, many of them former long-time employees of ABI, have accused the company of duping them into signing onerous contracts, squeezing their profits and unfairly terminating the relationship over a variety of unfounded allegations, in order to minimise its exposure to the risks associated with distribution and stringent labour regulations in South Africa.

The investigation, Casualties of Cola, which has been four months in the making and includes the testimonies of over 40 former ODs and their families, as well as dozens of industry experts and commentators, makes a compelling case for the assertion that this B-BEE-aligned owner-driver scheme is a modern day iteration of slavery that is eroding South Africa’s black middle class. In this, the piece is a larger meditation on the future of work in South Africa.

Casualties of Cola is presented by Daily Maverick Chronicle, an editorial partnership between the multiple award-winning South African news and opinion publication and its newly-formed production agency, Chronicle. It is written and produced by acclaimed writer Richard Poplak, along with Chronicle’s Sumeya Gasa, Shaun Swingler and Diana Neille.

Read the full feature here.


Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.

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