Woolies accused of unfair labour tactics
WOOLWORTHS employees, who have worked for the retail chain for three decades, allege that the store unscrupulously devised means to force them out of the company.
This is after Woolworths served 600 employees with fixed-time contracts with letters giving them the option to either have their contracts converted to flexi-hour contracts, take early retirement or voluntary retrenchment.
With the conversion, salaries would be slashed from about R9 000 to R3 918, with a R70000 once-off conversion payment.
Woolworths said the contracts were outdated and had to be changed to suit the demands of modern retail.
Two former employees, who opted to remain anonymous because their dealings with the company have not yet been concluded, told Sowetan Woolworths workers were given the letters on August 22 and were told to decide by August 31. The two have worked there for a combined 60 years.
"The company forced me to take early retirement because my contract had been converted to flexi-hour shifts. I would have found it difficult to survive on the proposed pay cut," one said.
She alleged that Woolworths did not hold information sessions to make them aware of their rights, before she signed the documents.
"I had to sign the documents without proper consultation because I did not know whether failure to do so would result in losing my pension money," she said.
The other employee said when she was called in to a meeting, she expected the company would offer her better pay for her loyalty.
"Instead I was shocked to find out that the company wanted to get rid of me, after I had dedicated my whole life working for it."
Woolworths chief operating officer Sam Ngumeni said the company never intended to part ways with the workers.
"We explained to all affected employees that our preference is for them to stay with Woolworths on permanent contracts that allow us to open stores for the hours that our customers have come to expect," he said.