Dis-Chem plans for festive season amid warning of 'intensifying' strike

Dis-Chem has made provisions to ensure stores and the distribution centres continue to operate ahead of the busy festive season, as the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) threatens to intensify its strike.

"Today (Monday) there was some picketing at the Mall of Africa and outside our Midrand Distribution Centre, which continues to run on skeleton staff," Dis-Chem spokesperson Caryn Barker said via email to Fin24.

Workers, aligned to Nupsaw, an affiliate of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) downed tools  at Dis-Chem on Friday, in demand for R12 500 minimum monthly salaries and guaranteed bonuses.

"Dis-Chem has made it clear that the wage demands are unreasonable given the current economic climate and that they would severely impact the company’s future operations," said Barker.

Barker added that Nupsaw's membership stands at 14% of the pharmaceutical chain's employees, and the company will not negotiate with a union unless it has a 30% threshold representation.

Nupsaw's national organiser Solly Malema said the union on Monday sent Dis-Chem's management a letter proposing a meeting to end the deadlock and committed to suspend the strike if the employer comes to the negotiating table.

Dis-Chem confirmed the receipt of the letter with a 24-hour deadline to respond, but was unable to confirm whether a meeting would go ahead.

'Minimum inconvenience'

Barker promised "minimum inconvenience" to shoppers ahead of the festive season, saying that additional security is in place at shopping centres where Dis-Chem has a presence.

News24 reported on Friday that Gauteng police used rubber bullets on Friday to disperse about 2 000 workers affiliated to Nupsaw, who were protesting outside Dis-Chem's offices in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Dis-Chem stores in the Mall of Africa in Midrand and Canal Walk in Cape Town, experienced disruptions for about two hours on Friday and  there were also small protests at the Sandton City branch.

This is the third industrial action Dis-Chem has experienced this year, with Nupsaw striking previously in January and rival trade union, the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) in June.

Dis-Chem’s share price on the JSE was up 0.83% to R31.75 on Monday at 16:30.

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