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Last updated: 28 April 2018

Memo to Members At Choppies on National Strike

It is with a sense of pride that the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (F.A.W.U.) communicate this message to all Choppies workers, member and non-members and those on strike and those who may have returned back to worker, and expresses the following:

This nation-wide strike is the first for Choppies to experience but could have been avoided had management listened to FAWU on reflecting the anger of workers and on the need to bargain and so nationally as first pointed to them in July 2017 through my letter to their Monica James.

While we were acting in good faith in trying to get workers back to work so as to allow for resumed talks involving the CEO, the dispatch of communication by Monica James claiming the strike has been suspended in the middle of consultation with members was irresponsible and meant to divide workers and place FAWU leaders as weak and not taking mandate.

Their threatening workers with disciplinary hearings and suspensions simply became a tactic of intimidation and instilling fear in workers , as no worker will be suspended for peacefully participating in a protected strike, as this strike is protected unless if it is for strike related misconduct, which will mean FAWU will represent its member and hence we repeatedly say the strike must peaceful.

At the moment 11 stores out of 13 in Limpopo, 7 out of 8 stores in Gauteng, about 6 out of 16 in North-West, 2 out of 5 in Mpumalanga, 4 out of 5 in Free State/Northern Cape are on strike and many in North West returned back to work due to miscommunication from our side and due to intimidation and threats from management. If they were to (re)join the protected the union will guide.

Having said the above we wish to point out that unity of workers, be they on strike or those not on strike and be those who are member and those still to join, is very important to FAWU so there should not be in-fighting among workers during and after the strike. We will be going to other workers to re-assure them that they just cannot be dismissed for merely participating in the strike.

Also, we reiterate that violence will simply get our public sympathy and community support eroded and out noble cause will then be viewed with other eyes. Related to this, we should respect the court order as it stands and negotiate with hopes manager and mall owners on the ground for picketing places as other have done so far.

The strike is a painful resort workers take when pursuing their demands and supporting their quest for better wages, working conditions and benefits as summarised by the issues in dispute:

  • R 4000 minimum wage per month or 10% , whichever is greater;
  • Guaranteed 13th cheque;
  • 40 Hour working week and no rationalizing of 40 hours per week;
  • Setting up of National Bargaining Forum to deal with a series of concerns, from uniforms, harassment and complaints, late- night transport arrangements and other issues related to working conditions.

Choppies in South Africa has grown to be of same size as its counterpart in Botswana in terms of turnover, revenue and profits as well in terms of number of stores, having acquired Jwayelani chain-stores, and workers want to be part of this growth and performance in material sense.

It is for these precise reasons that workers went on strike and we, as FAWU leadership, believes in dialogue and we are happy that the Choppies group CEO saw it fit to be involved and have talks to resume.