Union breathes fire at Makro stores over mass dismissals and unmet wage demands

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Saccawu embarked on a 10-day nationwide strike to boycott Makro products in a bid to force Marko to agree to the demands for improved wages and working conditions. Photo: Gallo Images
Saccawu embarked on a 10-day nationwide strike to boycott Makro products in a bid to force Marko to agree to the demands for improved wages and working conditions. Photo: Gallo Images

The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) is seething over what it alleges is the mass dismissal of striking members at Makro and its unmet wage demands. Makro is owned by African retail and wholesale group Massmart.

The trade union has embarked on a 10-day nationwide strike and is now calling for a boycott of Makro in a bid to increase pressure on the retail giant.

Saccawu spokesperson, Sithembele Tshwete, said: 

While the company purports to be committed to the developmental objectives of our country, aimed at eradicating the ugly legacy of apartheid, it continues to drive programmes that can only condemn thousands of workers to poverty whilst exacerbating the already high levels of unemployment and inequality

The union accused Massmart of imposing a regime of fear on workers through mass dismissals and other forms of intimidation, attacking collective bargaining efforts and union-bashing.

Meanwhile, Makro has dispatched outsourced retail staff to affected stores and anticipates that all stores will continue to operate without interruption. 

“Our research has revealed little support for the strike action among Saccawu members. Evidence supporting this is that there’s been a massive spike in resignations from the union since the strike action was announced,” said Massmart spokesperson Brian Leroni.

READ: Saccawu threatens legal action against municipalities for interfering with pickets

Leroni added that more than 1 200 Makro employees affiliated to the union had resigned to accept the company’s wage offer. He conceded that Saccawu’s demand for a 12% increase and 20% commission on sales was unrealistic and contrary to the fact that the union had accepted the company wage offer at Game and Builders Warehouse stores.

“We have no intention of amending our wage offer,” said Leroni. 

The union is calling for an across-the-board increase of R900 or 12%, whichever is greater, a minimum wage of R8 000 and an improvement of commission from 10% margin to 20% margin for a salesperson. 

City Press has seen the letter that the International Trade Union Confederation wrote to the group CEO of Massmart, Jonathan Molapo, on March 14, condemning the dismissal of 400 striking workers who demanded a living wage and improved working conditions.  

“We are reliably informed by our affiliate, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, of the action taken by your company and are deeply concerned that you have elected to bypass South African laws on dispute settlement and resorted to victimising workers for exercising their rights to freedom of association and expression,” read the letter. 

The International Trade Union Confederation further slammed Massmart for flouting the responsibility and sustainability goals it claimed to uphold, which includes prioritising “people and planet” and contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

“The actions your company has taken contradict the responsibility of enterprises to respect internationally recognised human rights and labour standards, as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” read the letter. 

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