Saccawu says a deal to end Massmart strike is imminent

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  • A wage dispute has been going at Massmart's Builders Warehouse, where around 12% of store staff went on strike.
  • Massmart senior vice president of group corporate affairs, Brian Leroni, said an improved wage offer was presented to labour.
  • South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson Sithembele Tshwete said the signing of an agreement was imminent.

While Massmart has pledged it will be able to service clients at optimum capacity through the December period, the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union (Saccawu) has told Fin24 that a deal with the warehousing and retail giant to end their strike was imminent.

This past week, Saccawu continued striking at the Massmart group of companies over wages at Builders Warehouse, where the union demanded a R500 increase across the board and rejected an offer of R320.

This follows a strike over other grievances including retrenchments at Game and employment benefits at Makro. Saccawu embarked on a strike that it hoped would devastate Massmart businesses during Black Friday - but it had little effect.

The wage dispute occurred at Massmart's Builders Warehouse, where around 12% of store staff went on strike. The strike was marked by instances of absenteeism up until this past Thursday. Wage discussions have been continuing through the week.

Massmart senior vice president of group corporate affairs, Brian Leroni, said an improved wage offer was presented to Saccawu with respect to Builders Warehouse and the employer would wait on the union's response.

Stores operating smoothly

"As matters currently stand our stores are operating smoothly as the result of strike contingency plans, which include the employment of contractors, and relatively modest levels of support for the strike action amongst Saccawu membership," said Leroni.

Leroni said Massmart and its group of companies remained confident in their ability to maintain the level of service required to continue serving customers throughout the festive season.

Saccawu spokesperson Sithembele Tshwete said the signing of an agreement was imminent, but would not say if the employer capitulated to the union's demands or if the union settled for an offer lower than its initial demands.

"Tentatively we are on the verge of signing an agreement. Not on the eve, but the verge. We won't go into the details until the deal is signed. Then we will be able to speak about the terms of the agreement," said Tshwete.

In another dispute, Saccawu is grappling with Game's reinstatement of retrenched Game employees whom Saccawu previously advised not to accept alternative positions identified in the wider Massmart Group.

The Labour Court ruled in November that this was bad advice from the union. Another dispute at Makro relates to a demand for higher mobile phone and car allowances for 170 Makro customer relationship officers.

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