Mozambique: Labour Minister Intervenes in Shoprite Strike

Maputo — Mozambican Labour Minister Helena Taipo made an unexpected visit on Thursday to the Shoprite supermarket in Maputo to hear personally the grievances of the 150 shop workers, who have been on strike since Wednesday.

Shoprite is a South African chain, and the strike affects all its stores in Mozambique, hitting the company at the busiest time of the year.

According to a report in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the strikers told Taipo they want a wage rise, overtime pay, a revision of their working hours, a set of internal regulations that satisfies the workforce, and an improvement in working relations.

Taipo promised the workers her full support. She said she will intervene personally so that the supermarkets return to work, but without harming the interests of the workers.

She stressed that all investors in Mozambique must obey Mozambican labour legislation. “We have been in contact with the management of the Shoprite group in South Africa, and we have requested that they come to Maputo so that we can clear up this matter”, she said.

The strikers say that Shoprite workers receive a minimum wage of 3,500 meticais (about 118 US dollars) a month. A few people, at the top end of the scale, receive 15,000 meticais. The strikers are demanding wage increase of between 15 an 18 per cent.

They say that wage negotiations have dragged on since 2004, when the workers first presented the company with a list of grievances. Despite the company’s refusal to take their demands seriously, only in September did the workers warn that they might resort to strike action.

The strikers stress that they will not return to work until their employers agree to serious negotiations.

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