Union plans pickets at Makro warehouses on Black Friday

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Saccawu members marching to hand over a memorandum at Makro.
Saccawu members marching to hand over a memorandum at Makro.
Cosatu (Twitter).
  • The SA Commercial, Catering, and Allied Workers Union is planning pickets at all Makro warehouses on Black Friday and Saturday.
  • The union's demands include a R900 or 12% increase across the board, whichever is greater, a R8 000 minimum wage, and a thirteenth cheque. 
  • Massmart said it had contingency plans in place to keep Black Friday going and would stick to its 4.5% wage offer.
  • For more financial stories, go to the News24 Business front page.

The SA Commercial, Catering, and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) is planning to picket at all of Makro warehouses in South Africa on Black Friday (25 November) as well as on Saturday.

The union accuses the Massmart-owned company of dismissing its wage demands and targeting members, but the firm maintains that not all its staff are supportive of the union's actions, and it expects normal trade in its stores over the two-day period.

In October, Saccawu submitted a memorandum of demands including a R900 or 12% increase across the board, whichever is greater, an R8 000 minimum wage, as well as a thirteenth cheque. The union launched a three-day strike at the time.

READ | Three-day strike at Makro ends, but union warns of further action

"Instead of responding to our memorandum and heeding the initiative by the union to return to the table and find an amicable solution to the current dispute, the company has elected to threaten members to withhold payment of bonuses through an internal memo," the union said in a statement on Thursday. IAlong with the pickets on the Black Friday weekend, nationwide marches to Makro stores are planned for 2 December.

Saccawu accused Makro of forcing its members to leave the union by targeting shop stewards by "victimising and harassing" them.

"This is a clear violation of the country's constitution especially section 18 which guarantees everyone including our members the right to freedom of association. Over and above this the company and the Massmart group have a long track record of unfair labour practices," the statement said.

The union said Massmart was provoking an indefinite strike through its conduct. 

READ | Union to strike at Makro as wage dispute drags on

Massmart vice president of group corporate affairs, Brian Leroni, said the group was aware that Saccawu intended to target Makro with strikes for some time and has prepared and implemented contingency plans including the deployment of trained temporary employees.

"Hundreds of union members have resigned from the union and we have found that there is a significant core group of staff members who are not supportive of the strike action. The result is that we fully anticipate normal trading activity in our stores during the next two days," said Leroni.

Leroni said Makro pays the highest minimum wage in the retail industry and has among the best maternity, medical and pension benefits. 

"Our position remains unchanged and is consistent with the 4.5% wage offer that Saccawu has agreed during the past two weeks in our Game and Builders stores.

"We have also received private feedback from shop stewards who have indicated that they agree that the company cannot afford a higher increase but that the union has instructed them to strike at Makro," Leroni said.

Massmart suffered a loss of more than R1 billion in just its half-year to end-June.

Leroni said Massmart had little insight into the union instruction, but speculated that it was linked to wider industrial action in the country.

Massmart was delisted from the JSE this month, following its R6.4 billion takeover by parent Walmart, bringing an end to more than two decades as a public company.

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