Dis-Chem briefly shuts Mall of Africa branch, operates on skeleton staff amid strike | Fin24
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Dis-Chem briefly shuts Mall of Africa branch, operates on skeleton staff amid strike

Nov 16 2018 19:05
Tehillah Niselow

Dis-Chem downplayed the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) wage strike on Friday, saying that a small percentage of employees were participating from the company’s distribution centres, and the industrial action was being undertaken as an "opportunistic membership drive" ahead of the festive season. 

Nupsaw’s Solly Malema said the union, on day one of the strike, had shut the Mall of Africa branch, several unnamed shops in the Free State and the Western Cape and the Midrand and Delmas distribution centres.

"This is not correct. The Dis-Chem in Mall of Africa was closed for a brief period today to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. The Midrand Distribution Centre is operating on skeleton staff. All areas of the business are operational," Caryn Barker said in an emailed response to Fin24.

This is the third strike the JSE-listed pharmaceutical chain has faced this year, with Nupsaw downing tools in January and rival union and Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) affiliate the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) embarking on industrial action in June.

Salaries revised in March

Barker said Dis-Chem was not in negotiations with any of the union, as no labour organisation has sufficient representation, while salaries are revised in March and are dependent on company performance and the consumer price index (CPI).

Malema accused the company, which operates just over 100 stores nationwide, of failing to process their membership numbers on the payroll, and said the union was demanding R12 500 minimum monthly salaries and guaranteed bonuses for staff members.

"Dis-Chem has made it clear that the wage demands are unreasonable given the current economic climate and that they would severely impact the company’s future operations," said Barker.

Nupsaw blamed the company for "apartheid and draconian" conditions on the shop floor, saying workers are barred from switching on their cell phones.

Barker said this was a security measure in place, as crime syndicates have in the past used cell phones to track the location of staff inside the distribution centres and the company has systems in place to relay emergency messages to them.

Lebogang Phanyeko, national organiser for Nupsaw’s mother body, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), vowed to intensify the strike in the coming days with the support of other affiliates.

Dis-Chem’s share price on the JSE was down 1.08% to R31.11 at 14.30 on Friday.

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dis-chem  |  strikes  |  pharmaceutical


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