By Confidente Reporter
ECONOMIC and Social Justice Trust Chairperson, Herbert Jauch, has called for justice for 100 Shoprite workers, who are facing ongoing disciplinary proceedings, linked to a strike in 2015.
“Shoprite has already dismissed 176 workers in Rundu and Gobabis and the company’s continued violations of worker rights must be brought to an immediate end,” Jauch said.
He said it is important to point out the strikes in 2014 and 2015 were the direct result of Shoprite’s alleged unfair and discriminatory labour practices.
“The workers who are now facing disciplinary action deserve our full support in their fight to keep their jobs.
He said that for the past four years, three different trade unions have been operating at Shoprite, none of whom represented an outright majority of the workers.
“Shoprite seized the opportunity provided by a divided labour movement, to sideline the unions altogether. The company also ignored wage proposals submitted by workers and their unions and instead decided to decide on wages and benefits on its own.
“Shoprite ignored the workers’ demands for transport and housing allowances, medical aid and long service awards. In 2014, Shoprite went as far as granting increases only to those workers who were not members of a particular trade union,” Jauch said.
“Workers were told to resign from the union, in exchange for an increase. This grossly unfair labour practice only ended when workers launched a case with the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
“In June 2015, workers submitted their wage proposal to the Shoprite management but were once again ignored. 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 on 28 and 29 July 2015,” Jauch said.
The strike ended upon the advice of the deputy minister of labour and the Employment Equity Commissioner and their assurances that they would look into the problems at Shoprite, he said.
“Shoprite then decided to lodge disciplinary proceedings against those workers who participated in the strike, but the company acted without consistency, as several of the workers in Windhoek had the disciplinary charges against them withdrawn at the commencement of the hearings.
“Others in Rundu and Gobabis were simply dismissed. Only the workers in Windhoek were permitted to obtain legal representation and Shoprite provided no explanation or justification for the disparate treatment.”
Shoprite workers earn very low wages.
Workers in the salary ranges of N$1 530 to N$1 710 received an increase of between N$190 and N$206. Thus, the average salary increase was just around N$200 per month, Jauch said.
So-called permanent part-timers or PPTs received even less. They are paid on a weekly basis and receive N$345 to N$462 per week.
“The average worker at Shoprite still earns about N$2 500 per month or less. As they receive no transport allowance, the workers spend between N$480 and N$960 per month on transport, depending on where they live. They also have to pay rent, on average N$1 000 a month, even for a shack in a backyard. This is before they can even think of food, water and gas for cooking and other basic necessities,” Jauch said.
“Shoprite on the other hand, boasted that it made a turnover of just over N$130 billion in 2016. Last year, Whitey Basson, the then Shoprite CEO, got a bonus of N$50 million and his basic salary per year was N$49.7 million,” Jauch said.
He claimed that after about 51 days of disciplinary hearings, Shoprite has spent more than N$3.3 million. This figure does not include the cost for renting the venue and the legal fees Shoprite pays to their lawyer and the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015