Woolworths was granted an interdict today by the Labour Court against SACCAWU, after the union was found to be in breach of the picketing rules that they agreed would govern industrial action launched against Woolworths. The union was also found to be in contempt of court. The Court has ordered that SACCAWU issue a press statement by Monday 13 October 2008 to at least two national newspapers, calling on members striking against Woolworths to comply with the picketing rules. The court also instructed the union to produce a letter advising its members to observe the picket rules – a letter which Woolworths will distribute to striking employees on behalf of the union. “We welcome this development. Peaceful industrial action will assure the safety of our customers and colleagues. Woolworths has honoured the legal rulings and agreements every step of the way, throughout our dealings with the union. We would hope the union turns a new page and commits itself to fair and lawful conduct,” says Zyda Rylands, Chief operating officer, Support services at Woolworths. We are extremely concerned about the levels of intimidation of our employees, the majority of whom have chosen not to participate in the strike. “We will investigate and address all instances of intimidation and continue to engage with the union in this regard,” says Rylands. In an effort to resolve the dispute Woolworths has tabled a solution to the current dispute at the CCMA, for Saccawu to consider. The proposal allows the union to show the representation it claims and to verify current members. Negotiations around a settlement of the dispute continue. “It is critical the signing of union membership is done in a free and fair manner without intimidation,” adds Rylands. “We believe we have presented the union with a fair and reasonable proposal to resolve this dispute. If the union will allow a joint verification process, and their membership within the company is sufficiently representative, we will have no hesitation in granting the union organisational rights,” says Rylands. Ends Notes to editors Woolworths dispute with SACCAWU is over the union’s request to represent our employees. This matter is not about wages or contracts. Woolworths respects the rights of our employees to belong to a union of their choice. We will not hesitate to recognise SACCAWU if they gain enough support among our employees, just as we have recognised a union in our logistics subsidiary. The onus is on the union to show us sufficient support exists. Woolworths position is in line with the Labour Relations Act. The union has also accepted that there are reasonable thresholds, now the issue is about verification. At the union’s request, we have analysed union membership at Woolworths on a number of occasions. According to the last poll conducted in November 2007, union membership at Woolworths stood at less than 15%.