Woolies dispute at CCMA

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

The five-week-long strike action by the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union against Woolworths is about to end.

The matter has been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for a joint verification process, which will help bring about a settlement to this issue.

The union members have been on strike since September 22 over organisational rights dispute.

Saccawu wants to be recognised by the company and wants rights to access stop order facilities to get membership fees directly from members' salaries.

Fiona Fewell, human resources manager at Woolworths, said: "We are pleased that we found a settlement to this issue because we are not clear why it took so long.

"The union always maintained that they have sufficient numbers and we have been willing to enter a joint verification process with them."

A joint verification process, which was supposed to start yesterday was postponed to Wednesday because the commissioner was not available and it is expected to last for 15 days. The outcome of this process will determine whether the union has representation at Woolworths or not.

"Twenty fivepercent membership will give them stop order rights and 30percent or above will give the union access to organise in the workplace," said Fewell.

Asked about the fate of those who took part in the strike action, Fewell said: "This is a legally protected strike so there will be no penalties but special disciplinary steps will be taken against those who breached the picketing rules.

"Above all we are delighted that our employees are back at work."

Herbert Mkhize, executive director of the National Economic and Labour Council, said he was happy that the CCMA was ably managing the situation.