Workers cry foul as merchandiser cuts salaries

Workers cry foul as merchandiser cuts salaries.
Workers cry foul as merchandiser cuts salaries.
Image: 123RF/ALLAN SWART

Workers at a merchandising company are crying foul after their employer who services major supermarkets in the country cut their salary by 15%, citing financial losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company, 360 On Point, sent  letters to its hundreds of workers, alerting them that their salaries will be cut at the end of May. The move stunned the workers as they believe that their firm has not been negatively affected by the national lockdown because it services the major supermarket retailers, which remained open since the beginning of the national lockdown six weeks ago.

These major clients include is Shoprite, Checkers and Pick n Pay.

“There is absolutely no reason for our employer to cut our salaries. We have not stopped working in the entire lockdown. We have been working all the time. We service the biggest retailers in the country who have been allowed to trade during the lockdown.

I do not understand why our company can plead losses at this time," one worker said.“Instead, they have made a lot of money during the lockdown. There is absolutely no need for them to cut our salaries at this stage.”

The workers are responsible for a variety of brands, ordering stock and ensuring that is properly maintained on the shelves.Companies which have made significant losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic have started cutting salaries of their employees in order to stay afloat.

Pride Bareki, human resources manager at 360 On Point, said the company had suffered losses despite its work with the supermarkets continued under lockdown.

“Even though we service the retail industry we have many ranges and products that were deemed to be non-essential by the government. Items like make-up and cosmetics, alcohol, Skincare, insect repellents and many more.

These [goods] contribute close to 30% of our product portfolio and income and were blocked completely from being sold. Many of these ranges will only be made available once lockdown reaches levels 3,2 and or 1," Bareki said.

“Over and above this, we also service outlets that were forced to close completely like Builders Warehouse , Fochini and Edcon stores. Furthermore we were prevented from servicing other outlets and stores due to their internal measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and as a result this has also impacted on our revenue stream.” 

She added that the company has applied for income relief from government but was yet to get a response. Bareki said the salary deduction were implemented across all employees of the company starting with the CEO.

UIF spokesperson Makhosonke Buthelezi said 360 On Point can apply for government’s benefit because of income loss. “It will assist the employees to have CCMA looking at this case to determine if the company was justified in their actions,” Buthelezi said.

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