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Shopsteward Volume 26 No. 2

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Media Centre  |  Memorandum

Memorandum to OK Groceries and the Department of Labour

8 August 2014

We, the people of South Africa:
- Recognise the injustices of our past;
- Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
- Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
- We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitutional as the supreme law of the Republic so as to-
- Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
- Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
- Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations[1].

This is the preamble of our constitution of 18th December 1996. And many of us believed that it was the beginning of building a united prosperous society free of any form of discrimination. We also believed that all who live in this beautiful country of ours would respect this constitution and all the acts which are meant to enhance the implementation of this constitution.

But today workers in this country are still experiencing all forms of discrimination and racial attacks in many workplaces. Black workers are still marginalised, continue to earn apartheid wages and are placed in positions based on their skin colour and not their capacity to do work.

In the recent past we have seen OK Groceries in Klerksdorp placing white workers in secure senior positions while black workers are faced with dismissal due to operational requirements (retrenchments). New facilities like the grocery trolleys are for use by white customers and they are the only ones who are allowed to take them to their cars while black are supposed to carry heavy groceries for a long distance.

Expiring contracts for black workers, in particular those who have joined the unions, are not renewed while there is continued intake of new workers to take their positions and white workers are instead promoted when their contract expires. Retrenchment seems to be targeting only black employees in the company and the union is not consulted when these retrenchments are supposed to happen.

Workers are retrenched and dismissed for no reason only to be reinstated in the CCMA[2].

Based on the above we demand the following:
1. The end of racism and all forms of discrimination in the company
2. The reinstatement of all dismissed workers by the end of next week Friday.
3. The compliance of the company with all labour laws including the Employment Equity Act.
4. Full consultation with the union when there is restructuring due to operational requirements in the company.
5. The end of the termination of employment of all the employees whose contracts are ending and the renewal of their contracts based on the availability of posts; there should be no new employee who gets appointment preference over the employee who has been occupying that post.
6. Placement of all the workers based on their experience and capabilities.
7. The full inspection by the department of labour on the compliance of the company to labour legislations and such inspection must be done together with the union.
8. We call DOL to include a full investigation by HRC on racism and racial discrimination.

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