File picture: Martin Meissner / AP Photo.
File picture: Martin Meissner / AP Photo.

Bidvest McCarthy employees plan to strike over ‘unjust’ job cuts

By SIBONISO MNGADI Time of article published Jul 12, 2020

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Durban - Employees of nationwide car dealership Bidvest McCarthy are planning industrial action over “unjust” retrenchments announced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The workers accused the company of using Covid-19 as an “excuse” to get rid of employees who posed a threat to the management by challenging some of their decisions.

The company issued a notice to begin the process which would affect more than 1200 employees this week.

In the notice, the company stressed that the drastic decrease in demand for vehicle purchasing and after-sales in the preceding months, the motor retail industry was under severe pressure, with forecasts indicating that this would be the norm for some time given the recession and effects of Covid-19.

It intended to restructure its business units, and suggested more than 1200 employees would be redundant.

However, employees claimed the company announced a sum of R200 million released from its reserves to keep business afloat and save jobs during the lockdown.

A workers’ representative, who asked not to be named, said notices were served to only junior staff, sales representatives and those who questioned some management decisions.

He said they were seeking legal advice to serve a two-week notice for a legal strike.

“The company has disregarded the retrenchment principles which are based on skills, experience, last in, first out and affirmative action.

“If revenue is a challenge, why is top management, which receives a big chunk from the payroll, not affected by this?

“We have formally laid complaints through our union. No one in management across all the regions has been served with notices.

“The company recorded a profit after lockdown and we performed very well in terms of revenue,” he alleged.

“Our salaries were cut and we claimed from UIF like other workers suddenly the company is serving us with retrenchments.

“This is a plot to get rid of certain individuals who are vocal about workers’ rights and injustice within the company,” an employee claimed.

TieKie Mocke, manager for Motor Industry Staff Association (Misa) which negotiated on behalf of the employees, would not divulge what was agreed on with Bidvest MacCarthy.

She said employees can lodge complaints to the association which would then be investigated.

“There is nothing I can discuss with a third party right now,” she said.

When approached about the allegations raised by employees, Steve Keys, chief executive at Bidvest Automotive, cited the impact of Covid-19.

“It was against the backdrop of the pandemic that they have decided to follow a section 189 consultation process. As a part of the Bidvest Group, we are committed to good corporate governance that supports our values of respect, honesty, integrity and accountability.

“The company has briefed all parties on the current financial and economic conditions and while we consider all our options to save as many jobs as we can, we want to ensure that the process is fair and transparent.

“Our people are our most important asset and throughout the varying levels of lockdown, our company has constantly looked after our people.

“As such, the Bidvest McCarthy employees who were among the 75% of staff within the group that were unable to work during the lockdown periods benefited in the same way as all other group employees from the Covid-19 Employee Benefit Fund that was set aside by the group,” he said.

Sunday Tribune

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