Massmart says it has not received a strike notification from Saccawu yet
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The Massmart group said it would like to confirm that it has not yet received notification of strike action from The South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) as required by the Labour Relations act.
This comes after Saccawu held a press briefing on Tuesday announcing that it would embark on an indefinite labour action on November 19 against the Massmart Group. The union said the strike was over wages and unilateral changes to working conditions by the group.
The union plans to have marches across all provinces, encourage a consumers boycott, and secondary strikes to enforce its cause.
Massmart senior vice president: Group corporate affairs Brian Leroni said: "We are, however, aware that Saccawu leadership is cajoling its members into taking strike action during the current trading period. It would appear that Saccawu’s approach has, in cases, involved threatening reluctant members to participate in a strike at a time when they would typically maximise sales commission-based earnings due to higher footfall and sales volumes in our stores," Leroni said in a statement.
Leroni said the rationale for the threatened strike action was not immediately clear.
"A Saccawu spokesperson, Sithembele Tshwete, has variously referenced wages, working conditions, and restructuring in various media reports. Strike action relating to wages and working conditions would be illegal on the basis that the strike certificate on which Saccawu is relying for this action relates primarily to Section 189 restructuring processes.
"This would further reinforce the unfortunate reputation Saccawu leadership appears to be developing for providing its members with ‘bad advice’. Specifically, Saccawu leadership recently advised its members employed by Game not to accept alternative positions that the company had identified following the implementation of a Section 189 process that was completed at Game in June this year. The result was that the affected employees lost their jobs," he said.
Last year, Massmart embarked on a 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 matter was taken to the Labour Court by Saccawu leadership, where the court ruled that Saccawu had provided ‘bad advice’ to its members.
"The Labour Court went on to state that if Saccawu had not provided the advice then, ‘the employees would still be employed and kept their much-treasured job security.’ The Labour Court concluded by stating that the advice provided by Saccawu was ‘treacherous and dishonest beyond measure," Leroni said.
According to Leroni, the group understood that the union found itself in a difficult position due to the Labour Court's ruling.
"We have, therefore, proposed re-opening the opportunity for retrenched Game employees to apply for positions from amongst the approximately 1 100 job vacancies that are available throughout the Massmart group. This offer has, unfortunately, not been accepted by Saccawu leadership, which is indicative of their unwillingness to engage constructively with the company," he said.
The company said it had implemented necessary strike contingency plans, including the deployment of Massmart experienced temporary employees, who are familiar with our processes to ensure the continued smooth operation of our stores.
The group said it did not anticipate that the potential strike would impact meaningfully on its Black Friday promotion.
Meanwhile, Saccawu 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.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE