The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday expressed “shock” at Pick n Pay’s announcement that it is contemplating retrenching about 3 137 workers.
On Wednesday, Pick n Pay said the retrenchments were in terms of Section 189A and 189 (3) of the Labour Relations Act, “due to operational requirements at the company within the non-management bargaining unit”.
Cosatu said in a statement it would back any action its affiliate, the South African Commercial, Catering, and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) took to save these jobs.
“We cannot afford to lose still more jobs at a time when unemployment is still a national crisis.”
Cosatu said that according to Pick n Pay operations director Neal Quirk, the decision was because of the company’s declining profitability and the loss of market share.
However, it believed “the move is a response to the threat posed by the takeover of Massmart stores by the union-bashing multilateral, Walmart”.
“We predicted that this would lead to retrenchments in other retail companies, as they struggle to compete with this global giant in the retail sector, and Pick n Pay is proving us to have been right,” Cosatu said.
The attack on jobs would strengthen its determination to stop the “Walmart invasion”.
Cosatu said jobs not only in Massmart stores, but in other retailers like Pick n Pay and in the South African manufacturing industry would be under threat.
It accused Walmart of using its domination of the market to procure goods from all over the world, regardless of the conditions under which workers produced them.
Cosatu was taking forward its application under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act and stood ready to mobilise its members in action in defence of jobs and trade union rights, it said. — Sapa