Boycott Shoprite to take ownership of Namibia’s economy - NCCI’s Mwiya
Edgar Brandt WINDHOEK - The CEO of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Charity Mwiya, has called for all Namibians to mobilise and boycott Shoprite Namibia for its recent decision to sue more than 90 of its employees for N$4.5 million over a July 2015 strike for improved employment conditions and wage increases. Mwiya noted that she has instructed the chamber’s regional offices to organise the masses to show their disapproval of Shoprite Namibia’s legal action against employees who barely make a decent living. A cashier who has worked for Shoprite for 18 years, earns a meagre N$3 000 a month, with pension and social security as the only benefits. “Enough is enough! It is time for Namibians to take ownership of the economy,” said a furious Mwiya. “As a country, we have opened up to investors to create meaningful jobs but when issues arise regarding unfair labour practices, then these same investors are quick to ignore the plight of workers. First of all, Shoprite does not buy local products so all of their profits go to South Africa. Also, the salaries they pay are not even enough to create a meaningful living. People need basic provisions like medical aid, transport and housing. They need to come to the table to listen to the plight of workers. This is not just a business concern but it is a national concern that should be addressed by all sectors of society,” charged Mwiya during an interview with New Era. The Namibia Wholesale and Retail and Workers Union has called for the Ministry of Labour to urgently intervene in the matter and Shoprite workers have called on the public to boycott the retailer. In the legal action Shoprite Namibia has taken against workers in the Namibian courts, the company demands that workers compensate it for an alleged loss of profits, legal costs of court action and disciplinary hearings that followed on the 2015 strike, as well as the costs incurred to employ temporary labour while the workers were on strike. In court documents, Shoprite claims workers were aware that the selected strike dates represented the busiest trading days for the company and consequently resulted in loss of profit losses and reputational damage. The company is therefore suing 93 employees, who barley earn a decent salary, for N$288 000 over the alleged loss of profits from sales that were lost on July 28, 2015, as well as N$3,4 million for legal costs of a Labour Court case with which the company obtained an interdict against the strike and for the costs of subsequent disciplinary hearings, and N$189 750 for the costs of employing temporary labour on July 28 and 29, 2015. Shoprite Namibia also wants the employees to be ordered to pay N$616 398 to the company for the costs of the venue that was used for the workers’ disciplinary hearing. About 27 years ago, Shoprite, which was then a South African company, took the first steps to venture outside SA. Led at the time by Whitey Basson (now retired), Shoprite said its African expansion would be its second growth engine. By the end of June 2016, Shoprite’s operations in 14 other African countries spanning 375 stores (as at June 30, 2016) delivered an exceptional 32.2 percent rise in year-on-year sales, to about N$12.9billion. At the end of 2017, Shoprite owned 106 stores in Namibia. This will take non-SA operations’ contribution to almost 21 percent of group sales, up from 17.5 percent in the six months to December 2015. By the end of 2017, a crippling foreign currency shortage, particularly in oil-producing countries like Angola (Shoprite’s biggest non-SA market) and Nigeria boosted the retailers bottom line even further because the currency shortage left local traders desperately short of imported stock. And of course, Shoprite has plenty of stock readily available. This is one of the reasons that Shoprite’s expansion in Africa remains vigorous, with more than one new store being opened every week. The number of stores outside SA by the end of 2017 was more than 400, or 58 more than a year earlier. Shoprite Holdings Limited is an investment holding company whose combined subsidiaries constitute the largest fast-moving consumer goods retail operation on the African continent. The group operates more than 2 300 corporate (owned) and 388 franchise stores and 19 brands. It provides employment to over 143 800 people across operations in 15 countries on the continent. The group’s 2017 annual report indicated that annual turnover was N$141 billion with more than 35 million shoppers per annum.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-30 09:51:23 11 months ago