Watchword should be employment not labour

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WHAT is in a word’s meaning? Quite a lot according to Simon Susman, the non-executive chairman of Woolworths. On Friday he called for the scrapping of the Department of Labour, so it could be replaced with the department of employment to shift the focus from labour legislation to job creation.

Speaking at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) where he also chairs the advisory board, Susman said the focus should be on introducing the country’s lowest-income groups, LSM (Living Standards Measure) 1 to 4, into the job market.

Unfortunately, he said, labour legislation prevented millions from getting jobs: “The laws are crazy.”

Susman said changing the Department of Labour to the department of employment would ensure an important shift towards creating new jobs.

Susman said Woolworths believed in offering incentives to its 22 000 workforce, of whom 10 000 were shareholders in the company. This is partly why the food chain boasted one the lowest shrinkage percentages in the world (0.7 percent).

He said Woolworths’ values were quality and style, value, service, innovation, integrity, energy and sustainability.

The same values would apply to Woolworths’ recent acquisition, namely David Jones.

Responding to Susman’s proposal, Marius Ungerer, who teaches strategic management on USB’s MBA programme, said a name change might seem too modest.

“There is, however, much more in a name than we think. Employment is the end result we all want. By starting to focus our attention on more people in jobs, we will make a small but a significant step in the right direction,” Ungerer said.

Food labelling

Your competitor is always watching. Sports nutrition manufacturer NutriTech is in hot water after its competitor, USN filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over false nutritional information claims made on the company’s 100 percent pure whey product.

The labelling of NutriTech’s 100 percent pure whey makes incorrect and improper claims regarding the protein and carbohydrate content of the products, according to USN.

USN went to the extent of contracting an independent facility to conduct the nutritional profiling tests on a range of NutriTech’s products in order to verify the claims being made. Even after NutriTech agreed that its products were in fact incorrectly labelled and false, it still did not remove the products off the shelves.

A second round of tests showed that the same product with same misleading label was still on store shelves.

National sales director of USN Dormehl Gertenbach said this had been sent to ASA because it could have devastating effects for the supplement industry.

“Our concern here is that consumers are being unknowingly hoodwinked into purchasing a product that does not meet its basic label claims. With the industry being largely uncontrolled, a number of ‘cowboy’ brands and start-ups are trying to cash in, which means that… these practices appear to be the norm rather than exception.”

The labelling of food items has been in the spotlight in past years with the meat industry and genetically modified products in the firing line.

Most food companies like Tiger Brands, Pioneer Food and Woolworths among others, have taken this seriously and tried to correct it. But how many food products are out there that are not tested? It is unfair for consumers that some tests are only done when there is a threat to competition.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Wiseman Khuzwayo and Nompumelelo Magwaza.


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