Massmart was, late this afternoon, advised by SACCAWU of a decision to embark on strike action starting on 19 November 2021.
The strike action is primarily motivated by a SACCAWU demand to reinstate retrenched Game employees who lost their positions as the direct result of bad advice provided by SACCAWU during a Section 189 process that was completed at Game in June this year.
Specifically, SACCAWU advised its affected members not to accept alternative positions that the company had identified.
The Labour Court confirmed, in a ruling handed down with respect to this process, that SACCAWU had provided bad advice to its members saying, ‘It is not unfair for this Court to respectfully comment that the advice to the members was bad advice.’
The Labour Court went on to state that if SACCAWU had not provided the advice then, ‘the employees would still be employed and kept their much treasured job security.’ The Labour Court concluded by stating that the advice provided by SACCAWU was ‘treacherous and dishonest beyond measure.’
It is notable that costs in the matter were awarded against SACCAWU who had also initiated the Labour Court proceedings.
Massmart understands that this ruling has placed SACCAWU in a difficult situation in the eyes of its membership. We therefore proposed a solution that included re-opening the opportunity for retrenched Game employees to apply for positions from amongst the approximately 1 100 job vacancies that are available throughout the Massmart group. This offer was, unfortunately, not accepted by SACCAWU leadership.
Their response was rather to manufacture an additional dispute in the form of a wage deadlock at Builders. This is intended to apply additional leverage to the company to reinstate the retrenched Game employees in their original positions (rather than the positions offered), albeit that the original positions no longer exist.
Our view is that this dispute cannot be resolved. We have therefore implemented the necessary contingency plans to ensure the continued smooth operation of our stores. This includes mobilising and deploying Massmart experienced contract employees who are familiar with our store processes.
It useful to note that Makro, Game and Builders are releasing new Black Friday deals each week during the full month of November, rather than on a single day. These deals are released on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week rather than on a single Black Friday.
This month long Black November promotion, which has been running since 1 November, follows positive reaction from customers when it was first launched at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. We therefore do not anticipate that the potential strike action will impact meaningfully on the promotion.