The South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) is set to embark on an indefinite strike on November 19 against the Massmart Group.
The union said the labour action was over wages and unilateral changes to working conditions by the group
The Massmart Group of companies include Mass Warehouse (Makro, Game, Makro Fruitspot); Massbuild – (Builders Warehouse, Builders Express, Builders Trade Depot, Builders Superstores); Mass Cash – (Rhino Cash and Carry, Jumbo Cash and Carry, Cambridge) representing 229 stores nationally.
In a statement, the union said it had secured certificates of non-resolution of disputes from the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), to embark on a protected national strike at various stores under the Massmart Group.
"Before the issuing of these certificates by the CCMA; Saccawu has been involved in LRA Section 150 facilitation sessions wherein the company has shown little interest in resolving the labour disputes at hand.
“These sessions date as far back as March 2021. This has left the union with no option but to galvanise a massive indefinite strike in this Group," the union said.
The union said the thorny issues include a wage and working dispute at Massbuild. Saccawu is demanding that employees be paid R500 Across The Board (ATB) increases, while Massbuild is offering only a R320 (4,1 %) increase.
"Other areas of dispute involve unfair labour practice wherein the company is placing workers on unpaid 7 days isolation, whenever they have been embarking on lunch time pickets that were a build up to this national strike," Saccawu said.
According to the union, another dispute related to mass retrenchments of workers as a result of the Group's Store Reorganisation exercise, leading to 380 workers being laid off.
"The other leg of this dispute involves a unilateral change to terms and conditions of remaining workers shifted across other stores.
“The remaining workers affected by the Store Reorganisation have seen reduction in working hours and days that is accompanied by a significant reduction of wages and benefits of these workers," the union said.
Last year Massmart embarked on the reorganisation of Game stores in January in a bid to return the business to profitability. The move led to retrenchments. Saccawu appealed the dismissals in the Labour Court and lost.
At the time, the company said it had tried to assist Saccawu to escape its predicament, by communicating that it was prepared to re-employ previously retrenched employees in the 1200 vacant positions that were still available.
The union said their petition for leave to appeal at the Labour Court was granted on Monday (15 November 2021)
"This gives Saccawu an opportunity to challenge the dismissal of these workers and set aside the propaganda by the company that workers refused to accept conditions of work that are less favourable," it said.
The union said its plan of action for the national strike would include a consumer boycott: "Saccawu is also mobilising with various components of the Mass Democratic Movement for a National Consumer Boycott of Massmart Stores. The National Consumer Boycott will begin on the 22 November 2021.“
On November 26, the union will hold marches in all provinces and submit memoranda of demands to various subsidiaries of the Massmart Group.
"The Main March will be held in Johannesburg where workers will submit a memorandum of demands to Game Stores CBD at Joubert Street Johannesburg," the union said.
It said discussions were underway with the chairperson of the National Regional and Local Companies (Worker formations in these companies) to mobilize sympathy/secondary strike.
"These companies are Shoprite, Checkers, Pick n Pay, Clicks, the Spar Group, Sun International, and other companies organized by SACCAWU," the union said.
This is a developing story.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE