About 150 workers at the only Makro store in the Eastern Cape are on strike. The strike, by about 150 members of the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), began in Port Elizabeth on 22 September.
On Friday, workers picketed at the entrance to the store at Kabega Park.
Simphiwe Valela, SACCAWU Eastern Cape regional educator, said the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) had declared a deadlock and issued a certificate of non-resolution on 13 July.
“We are demanding an increase in our wages based on the rand value, not on a percentage as the company insists. All workers, including those under existing labour brokers and those hired from outside, should be guaranteed the same minimum wage,” said Valela.
“Makro is insisting on a 7.5% increase while we need 8.5% or R750 across the board, based on a minimum of R6,000 a month or whichever is the greater.”
“At present Makro is paying a minimum of R5,000 a month to permanent employees, which is not enough given the current inflation,” he said.
The strikers also want casual workers be absorbed into the company in order for them to get the same benefits as permanent workers.
Valela said, “At present the casual workers are working 130 hours a month earning nearly R25 an hour. We are demanding that they should work for 160 hours a month.”
Brian Leroni, Massmart Holdings Group Corporate Affairs Executive, said, “While we are disappointed that we have not been able to reach agreement, we remain committed to working with SACCAWU to resolve this dispute in a constructive manner. Executive management will continue to liaise closely with SACCAWU officials.”
“Our wage offer, which included the introduction of a new profit share scheme, is higher than inflation and other recent wage settlements in the retail sector. Importantly, we continue to be a net job creator, in the context of job losses in the wider retail industry.”
Leroni said, “We have sought to improve job security by converting temporary employees to full time employees, a process that has touched the lives of more than 2,500 people in our business.”
There have been strikes at Makro stores around the country. But Leroni said stores were still open.
Other demands by the workers include a baby voucher of R1,200 (up from the current R1,000); an annual bonus equivalent to 50% of an employee’s salary; maternity leave of 66% of monthly salary for nine months; a subsidised housing scheme; and a buying card that would enable workers to get discounts at all MassMart companies.