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South Africa: mass protest marches tomorrow

By • Jun 11th, 2010 • Category: News & Analysis

Workers from Dis-Chem pharmacies and Game retail stores will hold mass protest marches tomorrow, the SA Catering and Commercial Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) says:

“Dis-Chem workers will use the strike to further highlight the struggle of Saccawu against an intransigent management who refuses to negotiate,” Saccawu said in a statement on Wednesday.

Game workers would protest against “the ongoing unilateral restructuring of the workplace” as well as the planned retrenchment of more than 1500 workers, Saccawu said.

The marches would take place in Durban and Sandton where there was a high concentration of striking members.

In the rest of the country workers would continue with pickets at their respective workplaces, Saccawu said.

Dis-Chem workers were demanding that the retailer negotiate with Saccawu on a minimum wage of R3500, a 15 percent across the board increase, conversion of casual workers to permanent status after three months, a guaranteed 13th cheque, parental rights, medical aid, transport allowances and the improvement of other benefits.

Saccawu members at Game were preparing for a second major strike in as many years, Saccawu said.

“Last year workers went on strike for wage increases and against unilateral restructuring of terms and conditions of employment.

“This time workers are preparing to strike to protect their jobs and the ongoing unilateral restructuring that will adversely affect the terms and conditions of employment of thousands of workers.”

Saccawu said Game was preparing to retrench as many as 1500 workers (700 permanent and 800 flexi-time employees); impose ultra flexi-time contracts on workers; introduce a 40 hour rolling week with no overtime for Sundays; and compulsory work on Sundays and public holidays.

“These are severe attacks on the working class already under stress and still suffering as a result of the recent economic crisis, not of their making, but as a result of how the nature of the capitalist system that is driven to make profits at any cost and without consideration for the consequences for workers.”

Saccawu said the owner of Game, JSE-listed Massmart, had since 2000 seen its sales more than double from R20 billion to more than R43 billion in 2009.

“Even in the period of global recession, Massmart still increased its sales by more than R10 billion between 2007 and 2009,” Saccawu said.

“Clearly the company cannot plead poverty, thus the reasons for this restructuring and retrenchments are squarely aimed at further increasing their profit rates through the intensification of the rate of exploitation of workers.”

Saccawu said the employees had called on workers not to strike during the Fifa World Cup.

“We want to state it clearly that it is the bosses that are using the World Cup competition to drive down workers’ terms and conditions of employment.

“However, we will not compromise workers’ rights because of the World Cup.”


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