Strike pending as macro wage talks collapse

Saccawu members of retail giant Makro will go on strike on Thursday and return to work on Saturday. We will meet again on Monday to decide how to proceed: Mike Tau, Saccawu.

FIFI PETERS: It is important to move away from Eskom and only look to the possible upcoming solidarity strike that could hit Massmart stores, some of the portfolio of its stores, starting tomorrow [Thursday, 15 December].

In fact, those of you planning to visit either Game, or the grocery store, or Rhino, or Builders Warehouse – and even Jumbo – should be aware that there might be a little more activity near those stores than usual because of of the forthcoming planned strike organized by the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union [Saccawu]which said it plans to hold a solidarity strike tomorrow after talks at the CCMA over macro workers’ pay didn’t quite go in the right direction.

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We have Mike Tau, Second Vice President of Saccawu, on the line for more details. Mike, thank you for your time. Tell us what could happen tomorrow and why.

Mike Tau: [You may] Recall that there was a lengthy dispute with Makro, which is owned by Walmart. We started with [a demand] for 12% or R800, whichever is higher, and then some other claims on the table. But the main focus was recently on the wage increase.

Last week we received a Section 150 letter from the CCMA to try to make some interventions as the company was initially uninterested in coming. Then we made our decision [to] mail them the strike notice with 48 hours’ notice for tomorrow, and we have extended the strike to a secondary strike by another Walmart subsidiary within the meaning of the law.

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When we went to the CCMA we revised our position from 8% to 7.5% and R630 whichever is higher and the company told us to give it by yesterday [at] An hour. Yesterday [at] 00:00 the parties met at the CCMA and the company again decided that they needed to meet their manager and they asked that we meet again on December 19th.

But unfortunately, when we woke up this morning, we realized that she [had] shared another propaganda machine by saying they had looked into Saccawu and felt the union was not interested in resolving this dispute.

We then revived our strike notice that was sent to the company last week and decided that tomorrow we will go ahead with a one-day industrial action and there will be a march to Makro here in Gauteng [and] we would meet And then there will also be a march in other provinces [or] Demonstration.

FIFI PETERS: Okay, Mike, let’s hear from the company.

Let’s get their side of the story. We have a voice memo sent by Brian Lerone – he is senior vice president for group corporate affairs at Massmart. Let’s listen.

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Brian Lerone: “From the start, the union reluctantly engaged in the dispute settlement process at the CCMA and they really took the earliest opportunity to walk out of the talks. It is clear that Saccawu does not want to resolve this collective bargaining dispute, and so we have completed the 2022 collective bargaining process. We’ve gotten pretty good at implementing strike backup plans and these have now been activated in our affected stores.’

FIFI PETERS: Mike, what do you think of that and the company’s statement that it’s clear that Saccawu doesn’t want to end this wage dispute.

Mike Tau: Let me tell you that when the CCMA called us about a Section 150, we accepted the Section 150. Then we got to the CCMA and made a proposal to management. Then the management said we have to give them up by then [13th], that was yesterday, until 1:00 p.m., around one o’clock. We agreed, we gave them the time. And then when they got to the CCMA, they went and discussed for a long time. When they came back, they said they would meet their manager because they didn’t understand our previous position properly.

We explained the position correctly. And then after that [our] They explained the position correctly and asked that we delay it until next Wednesday because the Executive is meeting on Wednesday. Now we are surprised to hear that Saccawu has no interest in resolving this dispute.

ALSO READ: Makro workers prepare for ‘indefinite’ strike over pay disputes

We blame the company for saying we have to give them the time – twice. And while we still had our federal board today, when we [were] in the national board they don’t even communicate with us. They communicated with the local members and they [said] According to two members the strike is over – I mean the negotiations for 2022 are closed. Therefore there will be none [further] room for negotiations.

We believe they are negotiating in bad faith because we agreed and accepted. The party met in front of the CCMA officer… and he advised us that I would request that too if we wanted to come to an agreement if the company asked for some time to meet their principals. We allowed them that. And again we suspended our strike to make sure we wanted to settle this dispute. We wrote a letter to the company and said that the strike would be suspended.

But after seeing their tactics yesterday and this morning, we decided we needed to revive that 48-hour advance notice.

FIFI PETERS: OK. The company claims to have taken action. They expect strikes. I just want to know – after the one day solidarity strike tomorrow, Mike, what’s next?

Mike Tau: We will strike tomorrow and our members will go back to work as usual on Saturday. And we will meet again on Monday and assess the strike and decide again on Monday how to proceed.

FIFI PETERS: OK. We’ll keep an eye out for these developments, sir. Thank you for taking the time to give us this information. Mike Tau is the Second Vice President of Saccawu.

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission.
Read the original article here.

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