Political heat burns Shoprite

NUNW and the opposition has joined unions and other formations backing the workers, while Swapo condemned the police's heavy-handedness against those protesting slave-like working conditions.

21 January 2021 | Labour

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



Some political parties have thrown their weight behind Shoprite employees who continue to be at loggerheads with their employer over salary and benefits demands.

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) have called for an immediate solution to the impasse in order to avoid job and economic losses.

Also, Swapo has condemned the police's use of excess force against striking Shoprite group employees at Oshakati over the weekend.

The ruling party's regional office was responding to a video - which has gone viral on social media - of a severely injured protester who is said to have been shot by the Namibian police on 15 January.



NUNW blasts 'opportunists'

The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) is also lobbying trade unions and workers of Shoprite to campaign for the closure of the retail giant's stores in Namibia.

Shoprite has about 95 commercial supermarkets in Namibia.

At a press conference yesterday, NUNW accused Shoprite of abusing workers and disregarding the laws of the country.



He also took a swipe at rival unions and other groupings who joined the anti-Shoprite bandwagon midway.

“NUNW is condemning all the opportunistic unions and political parties which have jumped into the NAFAU struggle for opportunistic reasons. This is purely a labour matter and should be free from politics,” said NUNW secretary general Job Muniaro.

The PDM called on the leadership of Nafau and Shoprite management to sit down and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

“The PDM notes with concern that the industrial action undertaken on 23 December 2020 by Shoprite employees countrywide seems to have no end in sight, particularly in these tough economic conditions made worse by the impact of the novel coronavirus,” said PDM secretary-general Manuel Ngaringombe in a statement issued on Tuesday.

He said if the deadlock continues, “we will then call upon the labour commissioner to intervene and act as a mediator between the two parties in efforts to resolve the matter as soon as possible”.



Boycott call

Nudo also joined the ongoing dispute between the retail giant and its workers.

Nudo secretary-general Josef Kauandenge said the party supported the Shoprite workers in their quest for fair pay.

“We are thus calling on all Namibians to show solidarity with these striking workers and not to buy from Shoprite; they must be forced to their knees so that they can run back to the negotiating table with their tails between their legs,” he said last week.

He also questioned the government's role in the matter.

“It is regrettable and a serious oversight on the part of government that on one hand they have shares or interests in companies that continue to mistreat Namibians at the workplace, and on the other hand they are supposed to protect the same Namibians from exploitation,” Kauandenge said.

Government this week said it supported calls from affected parties to boycott Shoprite.

Labour minister Utoni Nujoma also condemned Shoprite's recent move to compel workers to sign an undertaking that they would abandon the strike.

He also questioned whether the retail group was bargaining in good faith.

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