Show solidarity with Shoprite workers: Jauch

24 December 2020 | Labour

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The chairperson of the Economic and Social Justice Trust (ESJT) Herbert Jauch says Namibians should show solidarity and support the fight against starvation wages being paid to workers.

He said a case in point is the strike by Shoprite workers that started on Tuesday. According to Jauch, Shoprite has for several years ignored the pleas of workers for better wages and benefits to enable them to at least meet their basic needs.





He says decisions concerning the workers' wages and employment conditions are taken in South Africa and Shoprite Namibia does not meet its obligation regarding collective bargaining and the duty to bargain in good faith.

Jauch said in June 2015 the workers submitted their wage proposal to the management of Shoprite, but were once again ignored.



Not in good faith



“In light of Shoprite's refusal to bargain at all (let alone in good faith) and angered by the company's decision to unilaterally impose increases, workers decided to go on strike in July 2015.”

That strike ended upon the advice of the labour ministry and the Employment Equity Commissioner, with assurances that problems at Shoprite would be addressed.

According to Jauch, since then Shoprite has committed a host of violations of the Namibian Labour Act and continued with its unfair and highly exploitative labour practices.

Through their trade union, the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), Shoprite workers demanded an entry-level salary of at least N$2 500 per month, a general salary increase of N$600 per month, plus the introduction of transport and housing allowances.

“They also asked that after 12 months of employment, employees should be treated as permanent workers.”

The company offered a mere 5% increase, which in practical terms means an increase of N$100 per month for a worker with a monthly income of N$2 000, said Jauch.

The Shoprite workers rejected this offer and decided to go on strike.



Boycott



“As Shoprite and its subsidiary companies such as Checkers and USave make their money from purchases by Namibians, the Namibian public can now show solidarity in very practical ways.

“The Economic and Social Justice Trust therefore supports the call by Shoprite workers and Nafau to boycott the stores of Shoprite and its subsidiaries to pressurise the company to negotiate in good faith and to accept the justified demands from its workers.”

They also called on the labour ministry to ensure that Shoprite adheres to its legal obligations.

He said the Labour Act clearly states that an employee is presumed to be employed indefinitely unless the employer can establish a justification for employment on a fixed term.

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