Spar boss's penalty a lesson to all

A Spar shop owner has been told to pay close to R12m to staff for labour law breaches. The writer says departments must be applauded for looking after employees and making sure they were compensated for their hard work.
A Spar shop owner has been told to pay close to R12m to staff for labour law breaches. The writer says departments must be applauded for looking after employees and making sure they were compensated for their hard work.
Image: Supplied

Businesses in South Africa and the world over play a crucial role in terms of developing economies.

It is due to this immense responsibility that it is vital that entrepreneurs and business managers are law-abiding and prioritise ethics, promote human dignity and fairness in the workplace.

Unfortunately, there are many cases of labour law abuses in our country.

These range from home owners ill-treating domestic workers to business leaders failing to adhere to the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Equity Act.

Some employers deduct Unemployment Insurance Fund and provident funds from workers salaries but end up not forwarding the funds to the rightful statutory bodies.

One such business owner who earlier this week was found guilty of gross labour laws abuse was Chris Giannakopoulos who was ordered to pay his employees almost R 12m for making "unlawful deduction and not complying with minimum wage".

Giannakopoulos owns 10 Spar supermarkets based in North West and Gauteng and employs 565 people. He was ordered to pay the money within 14 days. This was after eight arbitration awards were granted by the CCMA.

When the department of labour got wind of the allegations, its inspection and enforcement services decided to probe and took the case to the Commission for Concialiation, Mediation and Arbitration against eight outlets he owns.

The CCMA ruled against Giannakopoulos after he failed to issue employees with contracts, making them to work for long hours and on Sundays and holidays without compensation. He was also deducting moneys from employees salaries illegally.

The awards came after the department of labour sent inspectors to his shops after receiving several complaints.

The departments must be applauded for looking after employees and making sure they were compensated for their hard work.

May what happened to Giannakopoulos serve as a lesson to other business owners that if you do not comply with the law there will be consequences. We call on Spar head office to take further action against him.

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