The soft drinks unit of SABMiller's South African operations has condemned the "high levels of violence" from some of its striking workers.

Late last month, up to 1,500 employees at Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI), the soft drinks division of South Africa Breweries (SAB), walked out following a disagreement with the Food and Allied Worker's Union (FAWU) over pay and benefits increases.

Since then, trouble has flared up, including the petrol bombing of delivery vehicles, assaults on non-striking employees, anonymous calls to employees' families and the stoning of ABI and owner-driver vehicles.

ABI is set to address its concerns with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) today (4 January), with a formal request expected to be made to COSATU to intervene. Also, tomorrow, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will facilitate a meeting between ABI and FAWU after ABI called in the CCMA to "ensure that members of the FAWU adhere to the strike rules and halt their current tactics of violence and intimidation".

"We are appalled by this behaviour and our appeal to FAWU to ensure its members respect the law has had little apparent affect," said ABI's MD, John Ustas. "As a result of the violence and intimidation, the CCMA has now agreed to intervene to try to ensure that FAWU members who are striking at some of our depots adhere to the strike rules, and that all forms of violence and intimidation are halted. We will also raise our concerns with COSATU."

FAWU has also served several companies with secondary strike notices in a bid to promote sympathy strikes, including SAB.

The two sides remain deadlocked over wage demands, with FAWU calling for a 9.5% wage increase against ABI's offer of a wage and benefits increase of 8.3%. ABI claims the offer is "an increase which is substantially above the current inflation rate of 5.8%".

ABI also claimed that it "has enjoyed a record sales week", despite the strike action.