Johannesburg - The JD Group, South Africa’s biggest furniture retailer, is planning to cut 4 110 jobs as part of a major shake-up of its portfolio in which it envisages the closing and rebranding of almost 500 stores.
The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) said on Friday that it had received notice of the company’s plans on Thursday.
The union said in a statement that it had been served with a Section 189 notice during a meeting where parties were supposed to negotiate wage increases and improvements to other terms and conditions of employment of workers within the JD Group.
The JD Group, which owns furniture brands including Hi-Fi Corporation, Joshua Doore, Barnetts and Price n Pride, did not respond to e-mails.
Saccawu said the restructuring included the closure of 111 Joshua Doore stores, which would affect 721 workers; 97 Russells stores, which would affect 619 workers; and six Barnetts stores, which would affects 26 workers.
The company was also planning to shut 15 Price n Pride stores, which would affect 74 workers; the closure of 24 Bradlows and Morkels stores, which would affect 160 workers.
“The company alleges that it employed 9 082 permanent employees as at December 31, 2015 and it further claims that 6 256 employees were retrenched for reasons based on their operational requirements during the preceding 12 months of their recent notice,” Saccawu deputy general secretary Mduduzi Mbongwe said.
“We believe that JD Group management has now made a career out of retrenching workers and do not seem to be guided by any rational plan as their restructuring is characterised by adhocism at best and mismanagement at worst,” Mbongwe said.
He said in the company’s February/May 2015 notices, it had initiated a new brand called Sleep Master, but less than 12 months since the operation of this brand they concluded that it was not viable.
“We believe that they have embarked upon a deliberate and ruthless strategy of destroying quality jobs and replacing such jobs with precarious jobs. Their actions undermine all efforts aimed at tackling the crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Their actions are only deepening the crisis,” Mbongwe said.
The JD Group was acquired by international furniture group Steinhoff in 2012, which relocated its primary listing to Frankfurt with the hope of attracting more investor attention. Steinhoff also acquired Pepkor, a South African investment firm whose subsidiaries include Pep stores and Ackermans. The group had also notified the union of their intention to terminate the relationship agreement that regulates organisational and bargaining rights within the company.