Workers will start an indefinite strike on Friday (19 November) at all group companies owned by Walmart-led Massmart Holdings in South Africa, Reuters reports.
The strike action is being led by the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu), an affiliate of trade federation Cosatu, and focuses on failed wage and retrenchment agreements.
Saccawu said the national strike would include Massmart’s major supermarket stores such as Makro, Builders and its cash and carry format Mass Cash, which represents 229 stores across the country. The union said it had several engagements with the company this year, but it has failed to agree on wages and lay-offs at some of its stores.
“The company has shown little interest in resolving the labour disputes at hand. This has left the union with no option but to galvanise a massive indefinite strike in this group,” it said.
The strike action comes as Massmart continues to focus on new turnaround plans, including a revamp of several of its stores and a bigger push into e-commerce. The group has also closed several non-profitable stores – including the Dion Wired brand in 2020.
In August 2021, the group announced the sale of several non-core businesses to the Shoprite Group for R1.36 billion.
The sale saw Shoprite take ownership of Cambridge Food, Rhino, Massfresh and 12 Cash & Carry stores. The sale is still subject to regulatory approval, which Massmart hopes will be concluded in the first quarter of 2022.
Massmart said that it will use the sale proceeds to pay down drawn bank facilities and invest in e-commerce. It will also pump money into merchandise areas where the remaining Massmart brands are the market leaders.
This includes general merchandise (Makro), DIY (Builders) and wholesale food and liquor.