The Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) has called for a nationwide boycott of retail stores owned by Shoprite Namibia.
According to the union’s general secretary Jacob Penda, it will force Shoprite back to the negotiating table for better wages for nearly 2 000 disgruntled employees, who embarked on a national strike late last year.
“More than ever before, we must stand united. As from today, we must tell the Namibian nation not to enter or buy from Shoprite, Checkers and Usave until the two parties have reached a reasonable agreement,” Penda said on Friday shortly after the labour court ruled in their favour, interdicting Shoprite not to hire seasonal workers to replace employees currently on strike.
Penda called on the workers who returned to work in fear of losing their jobs to rejoin their strike.
More than 2 000 Shoprite, Checkers and Usave employees who have been on strike since 23 December 2020 scored a victory on Friday when the labour court interdicted Shoprite not to hire so-called seasonal staff or “fixed-term” employees for the purpose of performing, in whole or in part, the work of the employees who embarked on a strike as from 23 December 2020 onwards for the duration of the strike.
Judge Shafimana Ueitele further interdicted Shoprite not to require, permit or allow any of its employees, including managerial and or trainee manager employees to do the work of an employee who embarked on strike as from 23 December 2020 onwards for the duration of the strike.
“Shoprite must receive and accept the Nafau’s representatives in accordance with clause 20 of the Strike Rules and allow them to remain present at Shoprite’s premises for the duration of the strike,” ordered Ueitele.
The court further ordered that each party would bear their own cost for the suit.
On 23 December last year, a total of 2 042 workers went on strike after they could not reach an agreement for better pay and benefits with their employer.
Without reaching consensus last year, the employees, through their union, the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), approached the labour court on an urgent basis for the court to interdict Shoprite from using ‘fixed term’ employees to carry out duties of employees who are currently on a lawful and protected strike.
The disgruntled workers are demanding a salary increment of N$600, a housing allowance of N$450, transport allowance of N$500, and permanent employment for workers who have temporarily worked in the stores for over a year.
Documents filed before court show that most of the employees are employed on a temporary basis for extended periods, ranging up to more than 10 years.
These temporary workers are paid between N$300 and N$400 per week.
This amounts to a monthly salary of between N$1 200 and N$1 600 on a five-day work basis.
The permanent workers are paid between N$2 000 and N$3 000 per month.
The employees do not receive transport allowance nor is transport provided by the company.
They also do not receive any benefits such as housing allowance or medical aid.