Johannesburg - Some 27 000 Pick n Pay Stores [JSE:PIK]
employees are preparing to go on a lengthy strike after the company failed to meet their wage demands, their union Saccawu said on Tuesday.
"We have applied to the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) for the establishment of picket rules in preparation for a protracted strike action," the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union (Saccawu) said in a statement.
A CCMA sitting last Wednesday could not agree on the number of workers to be allowed to picket inside stores, and workers' access to store toilets and canteens during the strike.
The parties would meet again on October 26 to draw up picket rules.
The union said the employer was expecting workers to do without wage increases in 2011 and 2012, but merely an adjustment to their wages equal to the inflation rate.
Workers however wanted a R550 per month increase - or 12%, a 10% staff discount on basic food items, increased working hours to about 120 per month for part-time workers, and a one-year wage agreement.
The union also wanted an end to the use of labour brokers, and the establishment of a centralised bargaining forum for the retail and wholesale sector.
The union claimed that while the company was neglecting their wage demands, it had decided to reinstate the annual year-end function, which had apparently been suspended four years ago because it was too costly. Saccawu charged that this "attempt to buy loyalty" would cost Pick n Pay almost R4m.
"We reject this attempt from management to try and bribe workers and call on the company to engage in honest and meaningful negotiations with Saccawu."
Pick n Pay had never suspended the annual year-end function, a spokesperson said.
"Every year Pick n Pay has an end-of-year lunch for its employees. This practice has been ongoing and we have never stopped it. It will be held again this year as per usual," Neal Quirk said.
He dismissed as "ridiculous" claims that the lunch would cost almost R4m. "It can never cost that much."
Saccawu members would continue to hold general meetings over the next two weeks to prepare for the strike and consider the company's position on picket rules.