Seven years’ backpay for 61 Pick n Pay staff fired unfairly

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BY DAVE CHAMBERS

Sixty-one Pick n Pay staff have been reinstated by the Labour Appeal Court after being fired for going on strike for an hour in 2010.

A Pick n Pay store. File Photo.
Image: Kevin Sutherland

Acting Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane ordered the supermarket giant to pay the 61 retrospectively to the date of their dismissal.

She was scathing about Pick n Pay’s unfair dismissal of the staff‚ who worked at the Woodmead store in Johannesburg‚ and awarded costs in their favour.

However‚ their fight may not be over. David North‚ group executive for strategy and corporate affairs at Pick n Pay‚ told TimesLIVE: “We believe our case is a very strong one‚ and are therefore very surprised that the Labour Appeal Court has overturned the decision of the Labour Court.

“We have only just received the judgment‚ and are studying it carefully before deciding on our next move.”

The 61 staff‚ members of the South African Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers Union‚ downed tools at 3pm‚ an hour before the store closed on Heritage Day — Friday September 24 — in the midst of a wage dispute.

The Labour Court in Johannesburg found that the workers “set themselves on a collision course with management” by striking at 3pm‚ knowing that the strike was supposed to begin only at 7pm.

But Kathree-Setiloane disagreed‚ saying the reason they did not know the strike had been delayed by four hours was because the shop stewards’ phone at the Woodmead store was out of order.

She criticised Pick n Pay for failing to give the workers a written ultimatum to warn them of the consequences of striking at 3pm‚ failing to allow the 61 to submit representations before firing them‚ inconsistency in the way it treated striking workers and making an “absurd” argument that the trust relationship with the staff had broken down.

“I consider the employees’ misconduct not to be such as to render their continued employment intolerable‚” she said.

-TimesLIVE

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