Most Massmart staff opted to return to their till points and posts after Friday’s first round of picketing against the retail giant.
The South African Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) announced that its workers would strike indefinitely if Massmart didn’t agree to their demands.
The group said staff attendance at stores was higher than Friday, and picketing appeared to have subsided.
“We estimate that less than 23% of Saccawu membership participated in Friday’s strike action with a further reduction to around 11% over the weekend,” said Massmart spokesperson Brian Leroni.
“For example, strike participation at Builders Warehouse, where Saccawu has 2 500 members, dropped from 640 to 250 staff members. All estimates are based on store absenteeism.”
Massmart said that workers apparent “indifference” for this strike does bring into question the membership mandate that Saccawu leadership claims to have.
The current strike action is occurring at a time when families generally have higher household expenses.
Massmart had implemented contingency plans to avoid disruptions to service, which included mobilising experienced contractors to pick up the slack.
But Saccuwu didn’t appear too concerned about the strike losing momentum, saying they were ‘not in a hurry.’
“It is not about publicity but about the mothers, sisters, aunts and all those women that have endured the harsh and exploitative conditions they always been subjected to,” said Saccawu spokesperson Sithembile Tshwete
The union is accusing Massmart of not paying workers the correct remuneration for weekends and public holidays.
“Workers are supposed to get a day-and-a-half pay for Sunday and double on public holidays; they are only getting a day’s wages,” said Tshwete on Friday.
The union also wants clarity on why Massmart reduced working hours from 195 hours per week to 120 hours, directly impacting workers’ pockets.
They’re demanding a R500 increase across the board for Mass Build employees. Massmart is offering R350.
Saccawu is also asking all South Africans to boycott the retailer from today (Monday) in support of workers.
By Friday, negotiations between Massmart and Saccawu deadlocked, but Leroni said that Saccawu national leadership had since reached out to them to resolve the strike, which is a constructive development.