Shoprite denies Nafau claims

Shoprite Namibia says no trade union has a majority representation.

25 July 2019 | Labour

Shoprite Namibia has denied allegations made by the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) that it is not recognising its workers' right to be represented by the union.

Nafau claims that the majority of the Shoprite workers have joined it - 2 542 of the 4305 workers or 59%.

It says when the Shoprite management noticed that it had obtained majority representation, the company started to “collaborate” with other unions “allowing” them access and to meet workers at the workplace, while refusing Nafau access to the premises, as the two parties had presumably agreed at the Office of the Labour Commissioner. “It was agreed that Nafau officials, together with Shoprite shop stewards, will meet with the managers, per store, and verify the total workforce per store countrywide.

This happened after they discovered that the majority of workers have signed up with Nafau,” the union said.

It said a request for recognition was submitted in January, to which Shoprite did not respond, which Nafau says prompted it to declare a dispute with the labour commissioner in May.

Nafau said a coalition meeting was convened in June and on 5 July, where the parties verified members. It said during these meetings it was discovered that 112 union members were not recorded.

Shoprite allegedly said the 112 workers do not work for the company. Nafau said it has sent a new recognition agreement to Shoprite and expects a response by early next month.

The union has threatened to take the matter back to the labour commissioner if the company fails to respond.



Denial

Shoprite said there are currently a number of unions seeking a recognition agreement as the exclusive bargaining agent within the company, while adding that not one of these unions have obtained majority status in the bargaining unit. The Shoprite management said Nafau keeps handing in duplicate membership application forms or membership applications containing incorrect information.

The company vehemently denied Nafau's claim that it was not allowed on its premises. “Shoprite acknowledges and is fully aware of the freedom of association that an employee is entitled to when it comes to being a member of a registered trade union. “Shoprite never prohibited and/or prevented any employee to be a member of a registered trade union.

Equally so, Shoprite has never prohibited and/or prevented any registered trade union from recruiting our employees as their members on company premises,” Shoprite said in a statement. The company said Nafau's request made on 30 January for recognition and to be the exclusive bargaining agent was rejected because the union does not represent the majority of the workers. It said Nafau's dispute lodged with the labour commissioner on 13 May was withdrawn in a letter signed by Nafau general secretary John Penda, who said the reason for the withdrawal was due to a “technicality”.



CATHERINE SASMAN

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