Pick n Pay staff plan strike

25 October 2010 - 12:23 By Sapa

Pick n Pay workers nationwide plan to begin a strike over wages and conditions of employment on Friday, a union spokesman says.

“We will start on Friday in all regions,” said SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers’ Union deputy general secretary Mduduzi Mbongwe.

The parties were meeting at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on Tuesday to finalise picketing rules, but, Mbongwe said consumers could expect picketing near all the country’s stores.

The Johannesburg region would set the tone on Thursday with a march to a new store opening in Vosloorus.

Some of the issues up for negotiation had been resolved, but there were still many outstanding matters, he said.

Matters agreed on were that the minimum wage for category one workers be R3000, compared with the R3500 opening demand and a uniform cleaning allowance of R51,35 compared with the demand of R70.

They had brought their original demand of an across-the-board increase of R895 or 20% down to a R550 per month increase or 12%, whichever was greater, and this was still being negotiated.

They were also still trying to reach agreement on: whether they should get a 10% discount on basic items; an offer that workers pay R5.50 for their subsidised meals instead of the R5.70 Pick n Pay proposed; 120 guaranteed working hours per month for all variable-time employees; that the difference between each category be adjusted from the current R160 to R300, and that employees receive 100 shares in the form of a gift at five years of service and every five years thereafter.

The union said they were prepared to refer the incentive issue to a second process.

They also wanted cashiers applying for positions of either frontline supervisors or cash office positions to retain their cashier two days off per month when promoted. As cashiers they usually worked six days a week, said Mbongwe.

In a statement Pick n Pay said the matters of labour brokers and centralised bargaining were not part of its current dispute with Saccawu.

Centralised bargaining existed with a high number of South African retailers, including themselves. Labour brokering was not in dispute between the union and Pick n Pay.

Mbongwe agreed with this.

The company said the current dispute was about wages and conditions of employment, regarding demands tabled by the union in December 2009.

Pick n Pay reiterated it was also not reinstating its year-end functions, which Saccawu had claimed was an attempt at sweetening them.

They were just going to have their usual in-store festive season function, the statement read.