Shoppers leave as striking staff close Makro

2017-09-29 14:06
Disgruntled Makro employees protesting for a wage increase on Thursday.

Disgruntled Makro employees protesting for a wage increase on Thursday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg Makro shoppers were forced to abandon their shopping trips on Thursday after disgruntled Makro employees downed tools and embarked on a protest against “unfair wages”, bringing the wholesaler to a standstill.

An irate shopper, who refused to be named, said she was confronted by the protesters after taking a picture of them.

“They came up to me and demanded that I delete the picture I had taken and also wanted to check if I had sent it to anyone.

“They were also hitting the shoppers’ car windows and at some point tried to snatch a Makro shopping bag out of a customer’s car,” she said.

She said most shoppers were “irritated and annoyed” by the commotion and decided to leave the premises.

However, the protesters denied these allegations.

When The Witness arrived at the Makro premises on Thursday afternoon there was a heavy police presence and police Casspir vehicles were parked in the parking lot.

A group of disgruntled employees chanted struggle songs while waving placards demanding wage increases.

Speaking on behalf of the protesting employees, Collen Naidoo from the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu), told The Witness that the strike was a result of a “wage dispute”.

He said the parties, employees and employers, have been in negotiations from April this year because employees were not satisfied with the 7,5% wage increase after they had been given 8,5% the previous year.

He added that they also want Makro to increase the minimum wage from R5 000 to R6 000 per month.

“Those people in the higher end will score, but those in the lower end will struggle. Last year they got a R600 increase and this year will get a mere R300.

“Therefore 5 339 workers throughout the 20 South African Makro stores embarked on a national strike from September 22 and the strike will continue indefinitely until our demands are met,” said Naidoo.

Spokesperson for Makro, Annaleigh Vallie, confirmed that Saccawu had declared a wage dispute that resulted in industrial action.

She said contingency plans have been implemented to ensure uninterrupted trading in their stores, all of which will remain open.

“While we are disappointed that we have not been able to reach agreement, we remain committed to working with Saccawu to resolve this dispute in a constructive manner.

“Makro’s minimum wage is the highest in the retail industry and our current wage offer, which includes the introduction of a new profit share scheme, compares very favourably to recent wage settlements in the sector,” said Vallie.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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