Aug 14, 2006
In a statement today, the Shoprite group said it has always been the group’s policy not to debate or discuss matters between the company and its employees in the media. However the violent conduct of a minority of members of its representative labour union, Saccawu, in localised areas in the Eastern Cape, Salt River and Khayelitsha has prompted the company to condemn the incidents of violence and vandalism at some of the group stores over the last 48 hours in the strongest terms.
The spokesperson for the group, Human Resources Director Mr Callie Burger, said the company faces a deliberate campaign of violence which follows the union’s failure to mobilise widespread support for its wage dispute over the last five months of negations.
The company deplores the conduct of the strike leadership and calls upon it to display the same level of respect for the rights of individuals, as it demands for itself.
Late on Friday afternoon, the company was granted an order by the Labour Court prohibiting in-store picketing and requiring striking workers to remain at least 25 metres from the entrance of all Shoprite stores and shopping centres.
The Labour Court has suspended certain rules imposed on the company by the CCMA. These rules had forced Shoprite to accept noisy in-store demonstrations which in many cases had led to the disruption of businesses not connected with Shoprite as well as prompting angry confrontations between strikers and members of the public.
The Court order also prohibits the intimidation and harassment of customers and staff.
Over the past three days, the SAPS attended to incidents at over 40 of the group’s nearly 600 stores around the country. There have been numerous arrests for offences including public disorder, assault, arson, robbery and malicious damage to property.
The company has carefully recorded and documented many of the incidents and the union members involved could expect to face the most severe disciplinary action if found guilty of criminal acts or strike misconduct. The evidence would also be made available to police investigators to assist Prosecutors to secure criminal convictions.
Statements taken from arrested workers confirm that they were acting on instructions of the trade union representatives.
In localised areas in the Eastern Cape, Salt River and Khayelitsha, Shoprite has temporarily closed stores where it believed this would help defuse a current threat to community safety. The future viability of the stores which have been subject to arson attacks and looting will be reviewed in due course but, at this stage, it seemed that certain of these stores were unlikely to re-open.
The company is also now assessing the damage caused by union members, and expects to launch civil action against the union shortly.
Burger thanked the majority of Shoprite employees who have distanced themselves from the wave of violent action unleashed by the strike leadership. He appealed to members to demand from their union that it return to the negotiating table to settle the wage dispute as it knows it eventually must.
He said that in the majority of the group’s stores normal trading continued and that employees were so far refusing to take part in strike action. The Shoprite Group values the safety of its customers and staff. Strong measures have been instated to ensure that consumers are inconvenienced as little as possible and the quality of their shopping experience is maintained.
Issued by the Shoprite Group of Companies