Johannesburg - Cosatu is to picket outside the houses of former Pick n
Pay chairperson Raymond Ackerman
and Western Cape premier Helen Zille
the Walmart-Massmart Holdings [JSE:MSM]
General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Monday the
Congress of SA Trade Unions wanted to target "those shareholders who can
sway opinion on the boards".
Vavi said in Johannesburg that Zille was a "very
prominent" shareholder in Pick n Pay, which planned to retrench 3 000
workers. These retrenchments were a result of Walmart's entry into South
Africa, he told reporters.
Cosatu also planned a nationwide strike to draw
attention to the harm it believed the deal would do to jobs and local
manufacturing in South Africa.
"We are ready to mobilise our members in the streets and in strike action."
He said the "real enemy" they were protesting against
was the "massive growth of imports from sweatshop economies" through
Walmart, which had a global chain of cheap suppliers. This would
threaten the local manufacturing industry and could force local
suppliers to drive down their own costs to keep making a profit.
"This deal could have a devastating effect too on South
Africa's already declining manufacturing sector, which needs to be the
mainstay of our economy and new growth path."
Cosatu was not against foreign direct investment in South Africa, but it had to be "mutually beneficial", Vavi said.
"Investment can't be one-sided and only benefit the shareholders concerned, such as with Walmart."
Foreign investment in South Africa should build jobs
and the manufacturing sector, and ensure the country prospered, he said.
Cosatu urged local retailers to agree to carry a 75% quota of
The union federation had taken action under section 77
of the Labour Relations Act to legitimise its planned protest, Vavi
said. This section gives workers the right to take part in protest
action to promote or defend their socioeconomic interests.
The R16.5bn Walmart-Massmart merger was approved by the Competition Tribunal in May, subject to certain conditions.
Last week, the departments of agriculture, forestry and
fisheries; economic development; and trade and industry filed heads of
argument in the Competition Appeal Court. They want the deal sent back
to the tribunal for proper consideration and more effective conditions
to be imposed. Cosatu supported this call.
"South Africa's local manufacturers are simply bleeding
to death as we speak... if you allow Walmart to come in without (more
stringent) conditions, it will simply worsen," Vavi said.
The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union
(Saccawu) had also appealed to the court to prohibit the merger. Failing
that, it would like more stringent conditions imposed on the deal to
address its perceived negative impact on the manufacturing sector and on
Saccawu wanted Walmart-Massmart to increase its
supplier development fund - one of the conditions of the merger - from
R100m to R500m.
The merged entity should be "prevented from spending
less on domestic procurement than Massmart spent on domestic procurement
before the merger".
Saccawu wanted Walmart-Massmart to agree to group
centralised bargaining and to reinstate 574 retrenched Massmart workers,
instead of just promising them preferential status if new jobs were
The review and appeal was expected to be heard in the Competition Appeal Court on October 20 and 21.
Vavi said if the court appeals were not successful, their section 77 application would give them the right to protest.