Massmart Wholesale chief executive Doug Jones has published a letter responding to the planned strike action against the group by aggrieved workers.
The South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) will lead an indefinite strike from Friday (19 November) at all group companies owned by Walmart-led Massmart Holdings in South Africa. Saccawu, an affiliate of trade federation Cosatu, has raised issues around failed wage and retrenchment agreements.
In his letter, Jones acknowledged the strike, but also spoke on the need to provide additional context, to ensure that ‘the facts are not lost’.
“Our business has faced a number of headwinds in the past few years, but in the face of these we have been consistent in putting the welfare of our people first. There were no job losses during the Covid-enforced trading restrictions of 2020 and earlier this year, and none in the aftermath of the looting of July.
“In fact, Makro staff in KZN received care packs immediately following those tragic events, and all our staff have enjoyed above inflation increases for the past few years. Even though two of our stores remain closed, all staff remain in their jobs and are being paid.”
Jones said that over the last week he has visited a number of stores and spoken to many long-serving Makro staff members. “The overwhelming majority have told me that they do not want to strike but are under pressure from shop stewards and Saccawu.
“It’s ironic that our staff have been placed in such a difficult position where they have been caught up in a dispute that doesn’t directly affect them personally or their conditions of employment at Makro. In fact, their conditions of employment have not changed in a number of years, and, it might be argued, have improved during this time despite the challenging times we face as a country.”
Jones said it is ‘disappointing’ that Saccawu has chosen to take its members out on strike, more so during what is an important period, namely Black Friday, and pre-festive season. He added that the group has implemented strike contingency plans to ensure the continued operation of its stores.
This includes the deployment of Massmart experienced temporary employees. “We assure you that we are open to serve you, and hope that we can continue to enjoy your support,” he said.