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Spar workers angry over hearings on returning from quarantine

| Supply chain

Employees at the Khayelitsha SuperSpar have slammed the store’s management for hauling them before a disciplinary hearing upon returning from quarantine for 14 days.

The employees had downed tools demanding to be tested after two of their colleagues contracted the virus.

They told the Cape Times yesterday that when they returned to work after the 14-day quarantine period, they were issued with warnings and were set to appear before a disciplinary committee today.

An employee who asked to remain anonymous said they were suspended pending a hearing and that the charge sheet attached to their letter did not make sense because they knew nothing about the charges against them.

“That’s my livelihood, I don’t understand how they can suspend us for defending our rights. All we did was ask to get tested, which we believed was the right thing to do after our colleagues tested positive,” said the employee.

Khayelitsha Spar director Kokkie Crous confirmed that an employee had been issued with a notification to attend a disciplinary hearing. The employee had been charged with giving false information to the media, he said.

“The employee went on TV to say that we had employees who had tested positive still working in the store. Not only that, but she went on social media to say people shouldn’t buy from Spar in Khayelitsha.”

Crous said the store had issued another employee with a notice for refusing to remain in quarantine.

In response to the Cape Times’ questions, the store said: “On Friday 17th April, our staff rampaged and misbehaved, committing various acts of criminal misconduct, which necessitated the closure of the store for a further period. The store’s entire workforce was screened and tested for Covid-19,” said the supermarket.

“Following this, all our employees were placed in self-isolation for 14 days. We have traded since the self-isolation with a temporary workforce. 

"Our workforce has now returned to work and we have concluded investigations into the misconduct of Friday, 17th April. It is now necessary to conclude those investigations by way of disciplinary proceedings, which will take place over the next few days.

“We have not fired merchandisers. We have replaced certain contracts (sic) with outsourced providers who perform merchandising services.

"Any suggestions, therefore, that we have fired employees in circumstances that arise as a consequence of their protesting that certain of their colleagues had tested positive, are mischievous and misplaced,” said the store.

Yesterday’s provincial statistics showed that the Khayelitsha area had 474 Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the Shoprite supermarket in Gugulethu was closed on Monday after an employee tested positive for Covid-19. This resulted in hundreds of South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries not being able to draw their grants at the store.

In total, four Shoprite and Checkers stores were closed on Monday in the province.

The Shoprite Group said the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the Department of Health were informed.

The group said a professional decontamination company was immediately brought in to sanitise and deep-clean the store.

“The (Gugulethu) store will be reopened in consultation with the provincial department of health,” said the group.

Three of the other stores had reportedly reopened after decontamination.

Cape Times

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