COSATU supports the planned action by SACCAWU to defend Wal-Mart -Massmart employees

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) denounces the retrenchments by the and union-bashing tactics of the Wal-Mart -Massmart stores. This company is wreaking havoc on the workers and their livelihoods and its tactics have destroyed one of the sectors that held a lot of potential for South Africa.

 Wal-Mart Massmart has embarked on what they say is the “workplace/work reorganisation” and this process has been done without proper consultation with relevant stakeholders, the unions in particular. This contempt for stakeholders is a Wal-Mart trait that they have used around the world where they have destroyed jobs.

The fact that the company has continued to serve workers with more section 189 application while discussions with unions are going on proves that the company is not negotiating in good faith. 

This unilateralism undermines the laws of the country and is vindicating the federation COSATU and its affiliates who objected to Wal-Mart entering the South African market in 2011.The Federation lobbied very hard against the Wal-Mart -Massmart merger in 2011 based largely on public interest grounds and on competition grounds.

 We warned of the destructive tendencies and the anti-competitive and anti-worker history of Wal-Mart has been demonstrated around the world.

 Despite impassioned pleas from various stakeholders for the rejection of the merger bid, it was approved, and sadly the federation and its unions have been proven correct. This company has used its entry into South Africa a gateway to the continent and it is leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

 It has hollowed out viable retail companies and then discarded them to eliminate competition and increase its market share. In the process, hundreds of thousands of lives have been destroyed through job losses and poor wages.

This company is destroying jobs despite the UIF assisting with workers’ stipends to soften the blow of COVID-19.

 Wal-Mart has notoriously used its size to force its suppliers to lower prices with disastrous consequences to jobs in the companies supplying Wal-Mart.The concentration in the retail sector has hobbled the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and stifled new entrants from entering the retail market.

 In response to the COVID-19 and as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, all social partners committed themselves to buy local to strengthen manufacturing capacity of the economy in order to create more decent jobs.

 Sadly, Walmart-Massmart has shown no commitment to such an endeavor. Walmart-Massmart continues to import massively from countries with low labour costs due to such countries not respecting workers’ rights.

 They have intensified their anti-union tendencies in south Africa by denying workers their rights by refusing them to join a trade union of their choice. The Federation supports its affiliated union SACCAWU in its pushback campaign against this onslaught directed at workers.

 The Federation shall be developing a mass mobilisation programme geared at responding to the unfolding socio-economic crisis and plans to work with progressive mass-based organisations and civil society structures to fight this onslaught against workers.

We also urge all our affiliated unions to offer practical solidarity to SACCWU, as the union embarks on a programme to defend its members.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794