Photo: Spar.com

CAPE TOWN - The employment and labour department on Friday welcomed the Spar Guild Southern Africa Limited to terminate the membership of the Giannacopoulos Group for various alleged infractions, including non-compliance with labour laws and the national minimum wage. 

In a statement, the department said it had received a series of complaints in May this year about labour law violations at Spar stores across South Africa.

"On investigation, all the stores which happened to be violating the labour laws happened to be franchisees owned by Mr Giannacoupolous. The department conducted a joint inspection on 30 May 2019."

The department said inspections were carried out at nine stores in Gauteng and one in the North West province. 

Allegations included a failure by the employer to issue contracts to employers, long working hours with no overtime pay, no extra pay for work on Sundays and public holidays, illegal deductions from salaries, and failure to submit Unemployment Insurance Fund declarations on a monthly basis.

An enforcement notice was issued to the Group, but the department said Giannacoupolous has failed to rectify the situation.

The department's chief inspector in Gauteng, Advocate Michael Msiza, said they had "bent over backwards" to accommodate Giannacoupolous but to no avail. 

Msiza said the Giannacopoulos Group has a debt obligation of R13-million which should be paid to workers for unlawful deductions, non-compliance with the minimum wage and overtime, among others.

Several Spar stores owned by the Group were closed on Friday, with Spar expected to start running the stores after obtaining a court order this week. In a notice to retailers, Spar said it was terminating its membership of the Group as it was "competing with businesses of retail members and brining the Spar into disrepute".

In a media statement shortly after the court action by Spar, the Giannacopoulos family said the actions of Spar were regrettable and said it was taking steps to resolve the matter. 

"Citing debt recovery reasons for their drastic and hostile steps taken, their action has not only been deemed unlawful, devoid of factual truth and harmful to the businesses and the staff that rely on these Spar stores for their livelihood, but has also affected the many customers that have come to trust the Spar brand and its integrity and goodwill in the market place," the statement said.

African News Agency (ANA)