Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) is threatening to embark on industrial action at struggling retail giant Massmart over potential retrenchment that could result in more than 100 workers losing their jobs.

Massmart, owned by the world’s largest grocer, Walmart, is grappling with a R6bn sales hit from the global Covid-19 pandemic. It announced a turnaround plan in January 2020 as well as the potential closure of 34 DionWired and Masscash stores, in a bid to stay afloat and save much-needed jobs.

The company, which owns Game, Makro and Builders Warehouse, employs about 45,000 workers. It issued a section 189 notice dealing with retrenchments on February 2, affecting about 130 workers.

Saccawu said Massmart initially wanted to retrench about 1,400 employees during June and July 2020, and noted that most of the affected employees had been placed in other posts within the company already.

The Cosatu affiliate said in February that it continued to engage with Massmart regarding about 130 workers who were yet to be placed.

This week, Saccawu said it had “exhausted all efforts intended to convince Massmart” to stop the retrenchments.

“The union is engaging with all members across SA and in all brands of Massmart and her subsidiaries for a remedial action under the circumstances, including industrial action; if needs be,” the union said.

It said after its national strategic meeting last week, “we are convinced that now is the time for our members to fight the erosion of their gains and defend their jobs”.

“We are approaching the final stages of readiness, with the obtained data from our regions suggesting that the anger on the ground is on the rise, with our leadership and structures now consolidating mandates for what is to be done and/or possible industrial action and taking the fight to the employer/aggressor,” said Saccawu.

Massmart senior vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Leroni said: “Massmart is unaware of any looming industrial action by Saccawu, which is baffling given our ongoing close engagement with the Saccawu top leadership team.”

He said Massmart’s group human resources executive Liziwe Masoga “has met with Saccawu’s leadership approximately twice per month starting in August 2020”.

“Our approach to Saccawu is, and continues to be respectful, and has involved sharing information proactively and transparently with the objective of reaching a shared understanding of the reason for the organisational changes that are under consideration,” said Leroni.

“Topics covered have therefore included full disclosure of the group’s financial performance and intended strategic direction.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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