16 December 2012

Mozambique: Shoprite Strike Ends

Maputo — Workers at the Mozambican branches of the South African supermarket chain Shoprite have ended a three day strike, after winning wage rises of up to 25 per cent.

The agreement was reached on Friday night, and, according to a statement from the Labour Ministry, the supermarkets (located in Maputo, Matola, Beira, Chimoio and Nampula) should all reopen on Saturday.

The agreement between the Shoprite strikers and the management was brokered by the Labour Mediation and Arbitration Commission (COMAL), the Ministries of Labour and of Industry and Trade, and the workers’ trade union. The mediation team was led personally by Labour Minister Helena Taipo, and the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Kenneth Marizane.

Taipo made it clear that the strike was legal, and that the workers’ grievances were justified, and visited the strikers’ picket lines outside the Maputo and Matola shops on Thursday.

Initially the 700 Shoprite workers demanded a wage increase of 48 per cent (although some of those interviewed by the Mozambican media spoke of 15 to 18 per cent), but the company claimed that Shoprite’s poor financial performance over the year made it impossible to offer more than 17 per cent.

Eventually, on Friday evening it was agreed that the lowest paid group of workers, currently earning between 3,510 and 5,501 meticais (between 118 and 185 US dollars) a month will receive a wage increase of 25 per cent.

The increase for workers in the second category, earning between 5,501 and 7,001 meticais a month, is 20 per cent, while workers earning more than 7,001 meticais a month will receive a 13 per cent increase. Further wage negotiations will take place in August next year.

The workers and management also agreed to set up mechanisms for permanent dialogue in the company. These mechanisms, with the General Inspectorate of Labour, will be used to deal with other matters envisaged in Mozambican labour legislation, including the signing of collective bargaining agreements and insurance.

Negotiations over transport and food allowances will take place immediately.

The Shoprite team to the Friday negotiations was led by four senior South African managers, including General Manager Fanis Schoeman, who flew in from Johannesburg in the morning.

The strike hit the company at the busiest time of the year, when Shoprite can ill afford to lose business to its competitors.

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