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Massmart workers commence indefinite strike

Thousands of workers, disgruntled over low wages and changes to terms and conditions of employment, went on strike on Friday at companies owned by Massmart in South Africa, the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) said.

Massmart workers commence indefinite strike

Saccawu, an affiliate of union Cosatu, said the indefinite strike is expected to draw more than 18,000 members across the country. "We expect all the members to join the strike," said Saccawu spokesperson Sithembele Tshwete, adding some workers started picketing outside some Massmart stores at 4am.

The union has said it had exhausted all efforts to resolve labour disputes with Walmart-led Massmart, which owns Game, Makro and Builders Warehouse stores, and was left with no option but to go on strike.

Source: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
Saccawu to start indefinite strike at Massmart

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The disputes include a wage dispute at Builders, with unions demanding an increase of R500 but Massmart is only offering an increase of R320. The union is also disputing unilateral restructuring and changes to terms and conditions of employment, which includes imposing a 40-hour working week with no premiums.

The union also wants workers who lost jobs as a result of restructuring at general merchandise Game chain to be reinstated. Massmart has said it had identified alternative jobs for those workers.

Tshwete said there were no immediate plans for the union to resume talks with Massmart.

The cost of striking

Massmart said the strike could cost striking workers up to 25% of their November wages, if the industrial action was to last for a week.

"It is difficult not to conclude that the... industrial action represents a Saccawu leadership power play that is not necessarily in the best interests of their members," Massmart said.

Massmart said contingency plans have been implemented to ensure continued operations, which includes deploying experienced contract employees to its stores.


Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world's largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day.
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About Nqobile Dludla

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Michael Perry
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