Nov 7, 2008
In the wake of a number of ground-breaking accomplishments in the retail industry Africa’s largest supermarket retailer, the Shoprite Group, has now reached a historic agreement with the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) to pay union members a once-off top-up payment in December 2008 over and above their annual Christmas bonus.
This is one of the first times that a major employer has agreed to provide a top-up payment to members to address prevailing economic circumstances, notwithstanding the existence of a current wage agreement that runs until 30 April 2009.
The Shoprite Group is only too aware of the impact of rising food prices on consumers. In October 2007 the Group made the decision to plough back millions of rands into the pockets of its customers by reducing its gross margin by almost 1% in order to make staple foods more affordable for particularly struggling lower-income earners. Central to the Group’s corporate vision is its commitment to provide food and household items at the lowest price to consumers.
The agreement follows an approach by the Union to the Group to assist staff financially in the face of rising living costs, including particularly food prices and interest rates. It was met with immediate willingness by the Group to engage with the Union with a view to securing agreement to their request.
According to Callie Burger, Human Resources Director for the Group, the once-off top-up payments will vary according to the employee’s period of service and type of employment and by far the majority of staff will benefit from a total pay-out of R11 million.
In a further progressive occurrence Shoprite has also reached an agreement with the Union on wage increases for the period 1 May 2009 to 30 April 2010. This is well ahead of the scheduled date for review and follows directly upon the three-year agreement concluded between the parties in 2005, reflecting an increased maturity in the collective bargaining relationship.
The Union’s Deputy General Secretary, Mdudosi Mbongwe also welcomed the agreement, which he described as a historic accord and one which he hoped would create a precedent for further agreements in the sector in circumstances such as workers in the wholesale and retail sector presently face. He said the top-up payment would greatly assist members over the festive season, despite the adverse economic climate.
In a further progressive initiative the Company and UNI (Union Network International) Global Union to which Saccawu is affiliated have started talks with the intention of concluding a Global Framework Agreement incorporating core ILO conventions and international good practice. Bones Skulu, the General Secretary of Saccawu, is also a UNI World executive member.
07 November 2008
Distributed by Shoprite Head Office