Strikers score court victory against Shoprite

Striking Shoprite-Checkers employees were delighted when the High Court ruled in favour of their union's court challenge.

11 January 2021 | Labour

ADOLF KAURA

SWAKOPMUND



Shoprite employees cheered after the High Court in Windhoek ruled in favour of their trade union, Nafau, in its application against the supermarket group on Friday.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele ruled that no worker may be appointed to replace a striking worker. The reasons for his decision will be announced today.

Workers of the Shoprite Group in Namibia have entered the third week of a countrywide strike after reaching a deadlock with the company on wage demands.

The workers are represented by the Namibia Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau), who took their dispute to the Office of the Labour Commissioner for conciliation. This resulted in a certificate of unresolved dispute being issued to the parties.

According to Nafau's branch organiser in the Erongo Region, Miena Ndapuka, more than 120 employees of Shoprite, Checkers and USave in Swakopmund joined the strike. This constitutes more than half of the staff.

“Most of the employees have been employed on a temporary basis for more than 10 years, and they are paid between N$300 and N$400 a week. Permanent employees are paid between N$2 000 and N$3 000. This is very low given the current living standards in the country,” she said.



No perks

None of the workers enjoy any benefits.

“Employees do not receive a transport allowance, nor does the company provide any means of transport for employees to and from work. They also do not have a housing allowance, no medical aid or any other benefits,” Kapuka said.

The union proposed a salary increase of N$600 per month for the workers, a transport allowance of N$500 per month, a housing allowance of N$450 as well as an entry-level salary of N$2 500.

The union also demands that all employees who have worked for more than 12 months be employed permanently and paid monthly rather than weekly.



Deadlock

The company offered a 5% salary increase (N$60 per month) and did not address the other benefits.

“No comment at this time,” said the Shoprite Group human resource manager for the Erongo Region, Joel Kapingana, when he was approached for comment.

The strike started on 23 December after the majority of employees voted in favour on 11 December. This came after the union and the company signed the rules for the strike.

The striking workers have not been receiving any pay since the strike began as stated in the industrial action (strike and lockout) rules.

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