The country’s biggest food and retail workers union  South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) says it has lost over 10% of its membership due to the ongoing massive retrenchments in the sector.

However, things are likely to get worse following widespread looting and vandalism of shopping centres, malls and warehouses in the country recently.

Last year, the country’s biggest non-food retailer Edcon served 22 000 workers with retrenchment notices in one go in the wake of the hard national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID- 19.

Retail group Massmart has also retrenched thousands of workers, most of them Saccawu members.

Now, an estimated 150 000 workers have lost their jobs in KwaZulu-Natal alone following the recent unrest that saw over 3 000 shopping centres looted and over 160 malls destroyed.

“Any act of retrenchments to our members is always viewed as a negative act. It also add pressure not only to the union but to members who have lost their jobs. It is always a pain for the union and pain for the country,” says Saccawu.

SACCAWU had 107 000 members before the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.

The closure of hotels, restaurants and casinos since the beginning of the national lockdown last year has also added to the union’s severe loss of membership.

SACCAWU laments job losses: