UNI launches solidarity campaign for Massmart workers in South Africa
Workers worldwide demand no job cuts at Walmart subsidiary
UNI Global Union has launched global solidarity campaign for workers at Massmart in South Africa - a Walmart subsidiary - to demand the retailer stops slashing jobs, reducing working hours and undermining workers’ rights.
UNI Commerce and UNI Africa are calling on unions, workers, labour and human rights activists across the globe to take photos with the solidarity banner and post them on social media with the hashtag #StopMassCuts.
Massmart has unilaterally introduced a restructuring plan that includes more than 100 job cuts, reduced working hours (from 195 to 120 hours per month), relocations and job reassignment that will impact part of its 48,000 workforce.
UNI affiliate, SACCAWU, which represents Massmart workers in South Africa, repeatedly urged the company to stop the retrenchments and negotiate with the union but Massmart continued restructuring and unilaterally changing conditions of employment.
Following a call from SACCAWU, Massmart workers have consequently been taking action every Friday across South Africa, that include strikes, walkouts, protests and demonstrations. However, the management is intimidating protesting workers through legal notices and putting workers who participated in the collective actions on unpaid leave to self-isolate for allegedly violating Covid-19 safety rules.
“It is an illegitimate lock-out under the disguise of Covid-19 protocols; and it is totally outrageous and unacceptable,” said Keith Jacobs, Regional Secretary of UNI Africa. “Rather than meeting SACCAWU’s demands, Massmart keeps attacking workers and their hard-won rights. We stand in solidarity with SACCAWU and Massmart workers in South Africa.”
“Massmart workers are still on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic making sure people have access to vital provisions such as food and hygiene products,” said Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce. “They deserve appreciation, better conditions and decent pay. Walmart must stop cutting jobs and rights and negotiate with SACCAWU.”
In a controversial take-over in 2011, US retail giant Walmart acquired a majority share in Massmart - one of the biggest retailers in South Africa. Massmart operates 423 stores in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa under many different banners.
The solidarity banner is available here in multiple languages: