Saccawu members protest outside the US embassy over 600 Makro retrenchments

Saccawu has claimed 600 names have been put forward for retrenchments.

Makro workers who are part of the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) embarked on a major strike again this week, gathering outside the US embassy.

The reason for the strike is the alleged dismissal of 600 Makro workers. However, the union has deemed this unlawful.

Negotiations during the disputes between Makro and its employees include the demand for a moratorium on retrenchment.

ALSO READ: Business as usual as Saccawu kicks off 10-day strike at Makro stores

Despite this, Saccawu has claimed 600 names have been put forward for retrenchments.

The union also claimed that there was an additional 300 names that were earmarked for retrenchments at a later date.  

The union has been picketing outside Makro stores for 10 days and is now picketing outside the US embassy in Pretoria, to hand over a memorandum, because Walmart, the company that owns Massmart and Makro, is based in the US.

8 000 members picket outside Makro stores

About 8 000 Saccawu members picketed outside various Makro stores across the country for 10 days.

According to Saccawu, Makro management has suspended workers with the aim of dismissing them. Saccawu has filed a complaint of unfair dismissal and suspension with the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration), with the intention of reversing the suspensions.

The union argues that this practice is illegal, and that they will intensify their efforts to secure better wages for their members.

Saccawu is calling for a 12% increase or a R900 raise in salaries for all workers. Additionally, it is requesting a minimum wage of R900 per month, an increase in the commission rate for salespersons from 10% to 20%, and a uniform allowance.

ALSO READ: Makro boycott underway: Workers’ strike for wage increases

The union is also demanding an increase in Category 3 working hours from 160 to 190 per month, the separate payment of a 13th cheque, a uniform allowance of R100 per month, and a halt to any future retrenchments.

But in light of the group’s net loss of R2 billion, Massmart argues that the union’s demands are unrealistic.

Demands ‘unrealistic and unaffordable’

In a statement, Massmart said: “Saccawu’s wage demands include a 12% wage increase and a doubling of sales commission from 10% to 20%. These demands are unrealistic and in the context of a business that posted a group-wide loss of R2 billion they are unaffordable. 

“In highlighting Massmart’s financial constraints to Saccawu, we described that our focus is on conserving jobs and avoiding retrenchments. Saccawu’s response was to add a moratorium on retrenchments to their demands.

“As much as we would like to improve upon our offer of 4.5% or R410 we simply can’t afford to do so without embarking on a significant project to cut payroll costs.

“Significantly, Saccawu members have accepted the company offer at our Game and Builders stores, whilst within Makro Saccawu membership has declined by approximately 35%.”

Massmart said that this figure excludes approximately 485 employees who were dismissed, after a three-month investigation, for behaving unlawfully during recent strike action.

“This unlawful behaviour included preventing customers from accessing our Makro stores.”

“There is a high probability that Saccawu’s position will ultimately result in the company declaring an indefinite defensive lockout,” the retail giant concluded.

Read more on these topics

massmart protest Unions