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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU congratulates SACCAWU for its massive Constitutional Court victory against Woolworths The Congress of South African Trade Unions congratulates its affiliated union the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) for their massive victory against the Woolworths. This follows Woolworth's unmerited retrenchments of nearly fifty one (51) workers six (6) years ago.

Woolworth's decision was premised on forcing out all those workers who refused to accept unilaterally imposed flexible working arrangements that were going to drastically reduce both their hourly rates and their benefits. After an arduous process of negotiations and facilitation by CCMA, the parties remained deadlocked and Woolworths proceeded with retrenchments. SACCAWU took the matter to the Labour Court, where the union emerged victorious. The Labour Court agreed with the union that the dismissal of the workers was both substantively and procedurally unfair. The Labour Court therefore ordered Woolworths to retrospectively reinstate members of SACCAWU without any loss of pay, in the first instant and further ordered Woolworth to pay costs. Woolworths though decided to approach the Labour Appeals Court hoping to reverse the victory, but the Labour Appeals Court also concurred with the Labour Court that the dismissal was unfair, but only the company to pay twelve (12) months compensation to each dismissed employee. The union felt that this was not fair to the workers who had lost their incomes for a period of over five years. The union subsequently went to the Constitutional Court to make sure that hostile and exploitative employers like Woolworths are not allowed to get away with this unilateral downward variation of workers terms and condition of employment with impunity. The Constitutional Court has since ruled that the dismissal of these workers was substantively unfair meaning that there was no fair reason for their dismissal. The Court further excoriated the employer for the manner in which they misunderstood the workers proposal during negotiations. It also agreed with the Labour Court's decision to order Woolworths to reinstate the workers with retrospective effect to the date of dismissal. This affectively sets aside the decision of the Labour Appeals Court that only instructed the employer to only pay twelve (12) months compensation to each dismissed employee. The Court also dismissed Woolworths cross -appeal. This is a huge victory for workers and we salute SACCAWU for their perseverance and never say die attitude in the face of gross violation of workers rights. The federation commends our affiliated union for their tireless fight against the exploitation of the downtrodden low income earners by these arrogant employers. Viva SACCWU Viva ! Issued by COSATU Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

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