Andrew Kathindi

Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) Secretary General Jacob Penda has accused the Shoprite group of not complying with terms of a High Court judgement issued last week.

In the case of Nafau vs Shoprite, Justice Shafimana Ueitele on 8 January ordered that the retail chain “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.”

However, the company has allegedly continued to disobey the judgement, using managers to work the till, sanitize customers at the entrance and bake bread.

“Shoprite is respecting no one in this country. Firstly, we signed the rules of the strike at the office of the Labour Commission which they violated as from the 14 December, until today. And after they got the court order they still contravened it.”

Penda said that Nafau has continued to engage Shoprite over the matter and wrote a letter to the company on 12 January but were only given excuses by management.

“If the court order says don’t use these people hired during this time or managers to do the work of striking employees, and they’re doing that, what do you expect from the nation and the communities? They are aggravating the workers and the community. They disrespect the laws of this country and they disrespect their workers.”

The company had hired temporary workers to replace employees of Shoprite, Checkers and Usave, who had embarked on a strike citing low wages and unsatisfactory working conditions.

This comes as Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement has announced intentions to demonstrate and shut down operations of several Shoprite and Checkers shops across Windhoek.

While Penda said he was not aware of AR’s planned strike, he said the move was welcome.

“Any person is welcome to join the demonstration in support of the workers.”

AR top brass Dimbulukweni Nauyoma said the movement was targeting shops belonging to the Shoprite Holdings in Windhoek specifically to force the company to address these concerns and remunerate its workers fairly.

“There will be about seven of them in targeted shops of Shoprite and Checkers. We are going to lock down Grove mall, Independent Shoprite, Katutura Shoprite, and Wernhill Shoprite. Capitalism will only listen when the means of production has been disturbed.”

He added, “it’s unacceptable that Shoprite violates the rules of the strike while people are still struggling to make ends meet.”

This comes amidst a nation-wide boycott of Shoprite and Checkers that has been called by the Nafau Secretary General.

Lawyer Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile who represents Nafau on behalf of the striking employees said that it was clear that Shoprite was not adhering to the terms of the judgement, adding that the company which originates from South Africa, feels its above Namibian laws.

“The judgement is clear. Shoprite didn’t deny that they were using seasonal workers to do the work of the striking employees. They didn’t deny that they’re using management to do the work of the employees. All of that is continuing.”

She added, “The judgement is not being followed. Shoprite, which is a South African company feels that they are not subject to Namibian laws.”

Questions sent to Shoprite’s Divisional HR Manager in Namibia, Karen Smith were not responded to by the time of publication.

Permanent employees of Shoprite at certain levels are believed to be paid between N$2,000 to N$3,000 per month. Temporary workers are reportedly paid between N$1,200 – N$1,600 for doing the same work.