Spar owner has 14 days to pay over R11m to staff for labour law violations

By Lameez Omarjee for News24

An owner of eight Spar grocery stores has been ordered to pay over R11-million to staff for not complying with labour laws.

The Department of Employment and Labour on Monday issued a statement indicating that the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration had granted it eight arbitration awards – against the owner, cited only as a “Mr. Giannacoupolous” in the department’s statement.

The CCMA’s decision comes following inspections at outlets conducted in May 2019 by the department, this after it had received a “series of complaints of alleged gross violations of labour laws”.

The Spar stores inspected were the Spar Orchards, Dely Road, Doornport Spar, Montana Spar, Wierda Spar, Silverton Spar, Zambezi Super Spar, Rietfontein Spar, Silverplace Spar and Safari Spar in Rustenburg. Collectively, the stores employ 565 workers.

“On investigation, all the stores which happened to be violating the labour laws were found to be owned by Mr Giannacoupolous. Ten stores were affected, with nine based in Gauteng and one in the North West,” the department said.

The issues raised in terms of violations to the labour laws include: failure to issue employment contracts, long working hours for staff without overtime compensation, pay for Sunday work and public holidays not granted according to the law, illegal deductions and complaints related to the hiring of illegal foreign nationals, according to the department.

In October last year Business Insider reported that the Spar head office had terminated the membership of the 23 stores which had fallen under the Giannacoupolous Group, with the intention to run them directly – as the group had brought the Spar brand into disrepute. A spokesperson of the Spar Group on Monday told Fin24 that the stores have since been returned to the Giannacouplous Group.

The Spar Group would not comment on the latest developments between the Department of Employment and Labour and the Giannacoupolous Group. The Spar Group is currently engaged in a legal battle with the Giannacoupolous Group, which is set down to be heard by the court in early March, making all matters between the two sub judice, the spokesperson said.

The Spar owner has to comply with the CCMA award within 14 days, or pay an amount with accrued interest.

Spar’s share price opened at R177.3 on Monday and was trading 2.26% lower at at R168.51 by 15:55.

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