CAPE TOWN - Massmart, which includes Game, Fruitspot, Makro, Builders Warehouse and Jumbo Cash & Carry, has accused the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) of threatening reluctant members to participate in a strike on Friday.
But the union said it was still prepared to engage with the company should there be willingness to meet their demands.
The union said its members were ready to down tools over wages and unilateral changes to working conditions by the group.
Saccawu regional secretary Crosby Booi said: “Saccawu is a national union and therefore Western Cape region is part of the union decision to embark on the strike commencing on November 19. Our members in all subsidiaries of Massmart, for example Game, Fruitspot, Makro, Builders Warehouse and Jumbo Cash & Carry, are ready for the strike as per the mandate given. The issues on dispute were already articulated from our head office.”
But the Massmart Group said it had not yet received notification of strike. Massmart spokesperson Brian Leroni said the group is, 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 maximize sales commission-based earnings, due to higher footfall and sales volumes in our stores.
“Consistent with our previous experience, the rationale for the threatened strike action is not immediately clear. Saccawu has variously referenced wages, working conditions and restructuring in news interviews. 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,” said Leroni.
Leroni said 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.
“The matter was taken to the Labour Court by Saccawu leadership, where the court ruled that Saccawu had provided bad advice to its members saying, ‘It is not unfair for this court to respectfully comment that the advice to the members was bad advice.’
“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’,” he said.
Leroni said that the Game shop has therefore proposed re-opening the opportunity for retrenched employees to apply for positions from among the about 1 100 job vacancies that are available throughout the Massmart group.