UNI Global Union and the UNI Africa Massmart Alliance of trade unions are calling on the retail group to stop union busting at its Makro stores in South Africa and immediately reinstate nearly 400 workers that have been unfairly dismissed.
Massmart has fired 379 Makro workers and suspended a further 70 workers for allegedly participating an “illegal strike” and “unlawful picketing behaviour” after UNI Global Union’s affiliate, the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) organized a series of walk outs at Makro grocery stores, including Black Friday weekend on 26 and 27 November.
In addition to the dismissals and disciplinary hearings, Massmart management has been using a range of tactics to break the strikes and weaken workers’ unity, including deploying temporary employees to replace striking workers, intimidating workers and offering financial incentives in exchange for resigning from the union.
SACCAWU has taken the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to demand the reinstatement of the workers.
UNI Africa Regional Secretary Keith Jacobs said:
“Makro has been using every dirty trick in the union-busting playbook to undermine the union and it is simply unacceptable. We stand united with Makro workers and SACCAWU and urge Makro management to immediately reinstate dismissed workers and negotiate a fair agreement with SACCAWU in good faith.”
Negotiations between the union and the company, which is owned by US retailing giant, Walmart, broke down after Massmart offered a paltry 4.5 per cent pay rise in response to SACCAWU’s demand for a 12 per cent increase and a minimum monthly wage of 8,000 Rand (US$435).
Members of the UNI Africa Massmart Alliance, which includes trade unions in seven countries, have written to Makro management demanding the company reinstate dismissed workers and accept SACCAWU’s fair demands.
The union’s demands in full are:
UNI Commerce Head of Department, Mathias Bolton:
“Our sisters and brothers in South Africa are not alone! Representing more than 160 trade unions and four million commerce workers across the globe, UNI Commerce extends its full solidarity to SACCAWU and Makro workers. Makro must stop union-busting and give workers their jobs back.”