Shoprite in contempt of court
Nafau says it hopes Shoprite judgment will deter employers from defying strike rules.
18 February 2021 | Labour
Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union secretary-general Jacob Penda has said he hopes the court judgment charging Shoprite with contempt of court would deter employers from defying the rules of a strike and sends the message that Nafau will fight for employees' rights.
Shoprite Holdings and its local subsidiaries were on Monday charged with contempt of court and intentionally disobeying a court order granted on 8 January 2021 by the labour court to stop using 'fixed-term' or any other workers, including managers, to perform the functions and duties of their employees who were on an industrial strike.
High Court Judge Collins Parker on Monday ruled that Shoprite was in contempt of court and presented no evidence to the court tending to establish that the breach was casual, accidental, or otherwise unintentional. He said the company's legal team, including some of its senior managers, were present during the delivery of the judgment on 8 January and understood it.
Parker went on to say the company however chose, without any justification, to disobey the order made by the court, adding that Shoprite breached the order and continued to do so at least from 08 January until 13 January 2021. Sentencing or punishment for Shoprite in this regard is yet to be determined by the court and the case has been postponed to 18 February for a hearing.
“We hope this sends a message to all employers that rules of strike are legally binding and any party that ignores them will face legal consequences. We hope this a clear message to those who think they have resources to manipulate the system that we are ready to fight for the rights of employees,” Penda said on Tuesday during a press conference.
He added that they will seek damages from Shoprite for not only defying the court order, but also for betraying their employees.
Shoprite, Checkers, and Usave employees went on a nationwide strike from 23 December 2020 until 22 January for wage increments and better working conditions.
During the strike, Nafau filed an urgent application with the High Court asking the judge to order Shoprite to stop using temporary employees or anyone else from doing the jobs of those on strike and to abide by the strike rules.
Although the court ruled in favour of Nafau, Shoprite allegedly continued to use temporary staff, prompting Nafau to lodge another urgent application asking the court to charge Shoprite with contempt of court.