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Namibia: Union Mounts National Campaign to Boycott Shoprite

Windhoek — The Namibian Commercial Catering, Food and Allied Workers' Union (NACCAFWU) together with Shoprite Checkers workers have mounted a national campaign that urges consumers to boycott shopping at any Shoprite or Checkers store in the country.

"The campaign is meant to encourage the public to sympathise with employees of Shoprite Group of Companies primarily because they are lowly paid," NACCAFWU's deputy secretary general, Joseph //Garoeb, told New Era yesterday.

"They (employees) can't even afford to buy food from their retailers," said //Garoeb.

He said the union would apply "whatever is in our means" to put pressure on the company to pay better wages to its employees as well as to drop the charges against employees who participated in an illegal strike in 2015.

Shoprite employees went on illegal strikes in 2014 and 2015 demanding better wages.

//Garoeb said 80 percent of employees at the company are "permanent part-time" while only 20 percent are permanent. Permanent part-time employees do not have job security and are paid N$240 per week for their labour. "This means they get N$960 if they save that money till the end of the month," he explained.

According to //Garoeb, some employees only take home N$1,200 in salary and the company was recently reprimanded by the ministry of labour for not adhering to the country's labour laws.

He said the company has at least 80 stores across the country, including Hungry Lion, U-Save, Checkers and House & Home. Yet, employees of this group are among the most poorly paid people in the retail sector.

"These people are paid nothing," added //Garoeb.

In addition, they do not have any benefits such as housing or transport.

He said that the term permanent part-time does not exist in the labour law of Namibia and that "working for Shoprite means you are only working for taxi fare".

The campaign started on Friday with a demonstration at Shoprite Katutura and would continue to other stores of the company.

"Consumer boycott is a new concept in Namibia but we had some people who sympathized with us by signing petitions and some now do not buy at Shoprite while others do not understand the concept."

New Era called the Shoprite head office before going to print and was told that a certain Mr Pienaar would return the call, but he did not. This is despite several calls to the office.

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