Striking South Africa’s Massmart Workers Return to Work

Labour unions in South Africa said on Monday that striking workers at Massmart Holdings will return to work after reaching an agreement in their disputes.

The disgruntled workers had been on strike since November 19, protesting low wages, unilateral restructuring, and changes to employment terms and conditions.

Builders Warehouse unions demanded a 500 rand ($31.50) wage hike, while Massmart offered a 320 rand rise.

The unions also sought to rehire workers who had been laid off during restructuring at the general merchandise chain Game. In its statement, Massmart claimed those employees had found alternative employment.

SACCAWU, an affiliate of the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), settled on an across-the-board 4.5% pay increase for all 45-hour permanent and 40-hour fixed employees who are union members.

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It takes effect “retrospectively” on July 1, 2021, according to the settlement agreements.

All permanent part-time associates will also receive a 4.5 percent hourly rate increase.

Another agreement stated that Massmart would rehire Game employees into open positions throughout the company.

“This has been a challenging time for those involved and we are pleased that the decision to end the strike will enable participating SACCAWU members to return to work,” Massmart said in a statement.

SACCAWU said workers returned this afternoon.

In spite of the strike lasting for more than two weeks, Massmart’s operations remained unaffected as it hired contract employees to staff its stores.

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