Most Woolworths workers staying

2012-09-06 19:06

Johannesburg - Most of the 593 Woolworths Holdings [JSE:WHL] employees who were on outdated contracts have opted to stay with the company, its chief operating officer said on Thursday.

"Woolworths has been engaged in discussions with a small group of 593 employees (less than 3% of all our employees) and proposed a variety of options to address our requirements to trade long hours," COO Sam Ngumeni said in a statement.

"The intention of the discussions and proposals was to provide voluntary options to enable the business to move away from employment with fixed, inflexible hours which have essentially become redundant, as they no longer meet the requirements of the business."

Last week, the retailer denied planning to retrench 600 workers. It said it was merely seeking to transfer about 3% of its staff on old contracts to a new system requiring them to work weekends.

If staff did not want to work under the new contract, they could leave with a voluntary severance payment, or take early retirement if they qualified.

The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union (Saccawu) said this was to the detriment of workers' rights.

Spokesman Thabo Mahlangu said those affected were mainly from the lower echelons of the work force.

The union predicted that management would try to "coerce" employees to accept the new contracts by meeting them individually, in an attempt to exclude the union from the process.

Ngumeni said the outdated contracts were created at a time when Woolworths stores were open until only 13:00 on Saturdays and were closed on Sundays and public holidays.

These working hours were no longer feasible in the modern retail environment.

Based on employees' requests, after discussions, Woolworths improved its various options, he said.

About 80% of the affected employees had accepted one of the voluntary options proposed, while 1% had not.

Woolworths would now look at phasing out this category of employment and would have to contemplate making these positions redundant, said Ngumeni.

"We still prefer all our employees to choose one of the options we proposed, but we have had to make a difficult decision and consider making certain positions redundant to meet our operational requirements. This is a last resort," said Ngumeni.

Saccawu said Woolworths was planning to retrench 177 workers, despite its earlier claims to the contrary.

"Hardly a week after vehement denials by Woolworths' spokespersons to the media that they do not intend retrenching workers, we are now informed of the planned retrenchments of about 177 workers," said Mahlangu.

Earlier this week, Solidarity started a campaign to get the company to retract job advertisements it believed discriminated against whites.

Deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said on Wednesday: "In the media, Woolworths argues that they are only complying with affirmative action laws. However, the truth is that the Employment Equity Act does not allow such exclusions."

Solidarity's campaign: "Woolworse: Making a differentiation", would be driven by social media and include protest messages to Woolworths CEO Ian Moir.

Woolworths' operations officer Sam Ngumeni denied the company was using racist recruitment processes.

"In order to meet our transformation commitments we use various mechanisms, such as designation, to deliver on our employment equity plan, which is in line with the Employment Equity Act," he said.

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  • werneroli4 - 2012-09-06 19:26

    Still no woollies for me. They will not see my money until they change their unconstitutional and blatant racist employment policy. They have misread the Employment Equity act completely. I urge everyone who is against oppression of any race in South Africa to boycott them !

      gungets.tuft - 2012-09-06 20:16

      And in doing so you support a campaign started by a lying attention seeker and a neo-nazi. Well done - clearly you chose the lesser evil. When you have found a retailer that has been excused from complying with the Equity Act please let us know.

      werneroli4 - 2012-09-06 20:45

      @gungets.tuft -The only thing that I support is equality for all. Please educate yourself, Employment equity does by no means allow a company to exclude a specific gender or race, some of the adds that they have placed only allow black males, this is surely is not in line with BEE. - 2012-09-06 22:12

      You guys have been mislead, see the original advert that caused this problem then judge the situation:

      werneroli4 - 2012-09-06 23:22

      @gungets.tuft- Firstly who in this world only has 1 friend in Facebook , you are so fake , and probably work for woolworths , secondly go and read the act It speaks about designated groups of people , which does not only mean African Blacks as required in the add , they could have just as well taken disabled coloured woman. Its racism , blatant racism ! Go and educate yourself. Btw the link that you posted refers to AA jobs , not just Jobs for African Blacks. The woolies add is racist against all non-black people.

      renny.meere - 2012-09-07 07:04

      I've already started boycotting them. Any person that backs Woolworths employment plans, whether they are white or black basically in my mind backs apartheid rules & regulations. I don't think blacks are that stupid that they would need such an unfair advantage.

      andrew.arde - 2012-09-07 09:38

      Ok, so you boycott WW....then what? You go shop for your groceries at PNP, Checkers, Spar etc......surprise surprise, they too have the same AA / EE policies. But wait let's not stop there, whilst we at it, let's boycott Std Bank, ABSA, Nedbank and FNB (in fact anybank in SA). Oh but hang on, Cell C, Vodacom, MTN also have the same policies. See where I'm going with this? The sooner we all realise that transformation in this country is a reality (in whatever form), the sooner we can all deal with it get on with our lives! You want to know tough.......go ask a white Zimbo. There situation makes ours look like a country picnic with an endless supply of champagne! Seriously people, this whole debacle is the brainchild of an attention seeker. Life is too short to worry about this!

  • bok.droll.5 - 2012-09-06 20:03

    I wonder how many of them are WHITE? Now that would be an interesting statistic!

      lerato.kay.3 - 2012-09-07 06:44

      Not many, whites are in management

  • pat.aldrich.96 - 2012-09-06 21:16

    Seems to me they are a lying. Bunch of racists. Boitcott them. I am buyin g my monthy supplies frim them. Not again. Thank you.

  • des.cider - 2012-09-06 23:01

    WW is worth a boycott on price and costs alone - forget their interpretation and application of racist legal and governmental requirements from which most companies suffer and a few will benefit. We are trying to rectify a dying economy in a dying world, and the last impediment we need is overpricing and cheap inefficient labour.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-09-07 05:33

    so Woolies is operating illegally then...WHERE IS THE CCMA!!!

  • marinda.combrink - 2012-09-07 10:35

  • kevin.ian.583 - 2012-09-07 14:04

    Congratulations Woolworths you have knoked R1.6 BILLION off your share value this morning alone. I have not shopped wit you fot 2 days and am discovering some wonderful new foods to experience. Your racist advert was still up last night "Only blacks Indiand and coulards" may submit CV's. I saw these adverts on your corporate web page myself.

  • richard.reay.9 - 2012-09-10 11:11

    Its sad that Woolworths have chosen to turn on the people that helped get them to where they are financially. Its also sad that blatant racism rears its ugly head through such a well established company like Woolworths, who benefits from its white customer base. They can deny and twist the truth as much as they like but not many will be fooled. Judge and decide for yourself. I for one will never support them again!

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