Maria Hamutenya

Pressure continues to mount on the Shoprite group over the ongoing wage saga with its workers after the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), the country’s largest union, called on its members to boycott buying from the retail giant.

NUNW calls came after Labour Minister, Uutoni Nujoma, was recently reported in the media urging members of the public to stop buying from Shoprite stores until the company resolves the dispute with its employees.

NUNW Secretary-General, Job Muniaro, called for “a genuine negotiation between Shoprite and its workers.”

“We call for international support even from countries that have Shoprite stores to support, we cannot have a company that exploits workers and not do anything about it, they have taken the matter too far.”

Muniaro ‘s call comes after the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) joined by the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) and employees from Shoprite, Checkers and USave on Wednesday marched to Parliament to hand a petition over to the Office of the Prime Minister.

A representative from the Office of the Prime Minister finally arrived to receive the petition after standing the workers had been standing outside Parliament for two hours .

In the petition the workers stated their disappointment as they are working under slavery and unsatisfactory working conditions. “Today marks day 29 of strike and there is no desired response to our demands from Shoprite.”

Muniaro added that during the ballot process, Shoprite started to violate the strike rules by recruiting 390 new employees to do the work of the striking employees.

“To date, seasonal employees are in Shoprite, Checkers and USave stores performing the duties of the striking employees in blatant disregard of the law and the court order given against them” said an employee.

“We are asking our government to order Shoprite to adhere and comply with the law of our country, otherwise they must close their doors and leave Namibia for good,” he continued.

A second petition was handed over to the Namibian Police Commissioner Joseph Shikongo regarding their brutal actions against innocent unarmed striking workers and civilians.

“We are disappointed by such actions, we are condemning on strongest manner, the brutal actions and shooting of unarmed protestors who were not violent neither intent to be violent or damage any property. This should not happen again,” said the spokeperson.

NAFAU Deputy Secretary-General Absalom Willem urged the government to make sure that investors coming into Namibia to start business must prioritise paying people descent salaries.

“Employees are being paid N$1200 per month without any benefits, at the end of the day they have to use N$700 for taxi to work every day, and only left with N$ 500 which is not enough.