Unions plan Walmart-Massmart hearing picket

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) on Monday announced their intention to embark on “mass pickets” at the Walmart-Massmart appeal hearing in Cape Town set for Thursday and Friday, October 21 and 22.

The unions have appealed the R16.5-billion deal for 51% of Massmart, which was approved in June by the Competition Tribunal.

“The protest action intends to explicitly demonstrate to the country and the appeals tribunal that not only are citizens opposed to the Walmart entry, but more seriously that it poses a major threat to employment and the development of manufacturing and other sectors of the economy,” they commented.

The unions said they believed that both the Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal erred in their findings and that hardly any consideration was given to substantial evidence provided by labour, independent experts and government experts, and clear convergence of concerns emerged, based on Walmart’s history and track record, which point to serious concerns, attacks on trade unions and the destruction of local economies and job losses.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson have applied for a review of the acquisition.

The Competition Appeal court will hear both the review and appeal this week. October 24 has been set aside in case the appeal and review hearings are not fully completed by Friday.

Last week Absa Capital analysts pointed out that the potential industrial action would negatively affect the manufacturing sector, given that that it was hard hit by industrial action in July.—I-Net Bridge

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