18 May 2017

Namibia: Nafau Wants All Shoprite Workers to Join One Union

THE NAMIBIAN Food and Allied Workers Union yesterday announced its mission to get all Shoprite employees to join it in a bid to be a recognised union representative.

Addressing journalists at a press conference held at the union's head office in Katutura, Nafau general secretary Jacob Penda also called upon the Shoprite management to not delay the process of recognition as soon as the union achieves the required majority membership.

"It is a pity that these workers have been divided for the past seven years, and as a result, no union is recognised by Shoprite. This has made the workers vulnerable in terms of rights and representation," he stated.

Penda added that once recognised, the union will negotiate for better benefits for the employees. Shoprite is at the moment paying its Namibian employees whatever it feels like, he said.

The company has about 4 300 employees countrywide, with more than 40 outlets, the unionist noted.

"We have been on the campaign countrywide to have all employees join one union since March. Very soon, we will analyse the current number of members, and see how many are Shoprite employees," he said, adding that people have been joining since the campaign kicked off.

According to Penda, employees of Shoprite in South Africa have got medical aid, pension, transport and housing allowances, amongst other benefits.

"As for Shoprite employees in Namibia, you find a person who has been working for the company for five years on a permanent part-time basis, but they have no benefits. They just work and take home the salary, that is all. No pension, nothing," he charged.

Penda added that the union does not want to allow workers of Shoprite "to remain divided, and suffering for years and years."

He said the union had several consultative meetings with the labour minister, other unions, as well as the Shoprite management, but no recognition agreement was ever reached.

This is what prompted Nafau to go around the country to mobilise and organise Shoprite workers to join Nafau in order to represent them.

Nafau furthermore demanded that Shoprite calls off the hearing of the 130 employees who participated in an alleged illegal strike in 2015.

The hearing is scheduled for next week, he said.

Last October, South African media reported that Shoprite's CEO, Whitey Basson's, pay was at R100 million (N$100 million), thanks to a bonus from Africa's largest food retailer for beating a profit-growth target.

Basson's remuneration included R50 million in basic pay for the 12 months through June, in line with the previous year, and a R50 million one-time performance-related bonus.

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