Community prevents USave from operating
18 January 2021 | Labour
Vadi Phil; AR Swakopmund leader; “No police officer should touch anybody who has not broken the law.”
Community members of Mondesa and the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) party cadres joined aggrieved workers of the Shoprite - Checkers Group in a demonstration outside the USave shop in Mondesa on Saturday.
The workers have been striking since the end of December last year, due to a deadlock in wage negations between their representatives, the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU), and the management of Shoprite - Checkers.
During the demonstration, the approximately 100 participating community members discouraged residents from entering USave to buy goods, telling them that the company should not earn any money just like the striking workers have been earning paltry wages for many years.
The community cordoned off the area with red and white caution tape preventing motorists from using the street in front of USave.
They also confronted the management as well as the security guards protecting the premises.
The police arrived at the scene a few hours later and attempted to remove the reluctant group.
An infuriated Phil Vadi, AR Swakopmund’s candidate in the recent regional elections, told the police to back off, saying that what the community was doing was not against the law.
“You are here to protect the workers and not here to defend the monopolistic capitalistic system. No police officer should touch anybody who has not broken the law. Nobody is here to be intimidated by the police. We are here in peace and we are here in unity.”
Vadi said all the group wants is a better salary and working conditions for employees.
“Every day our brothers and sisters are suffering, making money for the monopolistic capitalsitic system,” said Phil.
The ministry of labour, industrial relations and employment creation (MLIREC) said in a press statement on Friday that they had engaged the Shoprite-Checkers Group as well as NAFAU in an effort to reach an amicable agreement.
“Both parties agreed to engage each other in good faith to find a lasting solution. The nation will be kept informed as the negotiations progress in this regard,” said MLIREC executive director, Bro-Matthew Shinguadja.
He emphasised that the ministry remains accessible and available to either party for consultation and advice, while the conciliator is dealing with the matter as legally prescribed.
The union proposed a salary increment of N$600 per month for the workers, a transport allowance of N$500 per month, a housing allowance of N$450 as well as an entry level salary of N$2 500.
The union also demands that all employees who have worked for more than 12 months, be employed permanently and paid monthly rather than weekly.
The company offered a 5% salary increment (N$60 per month) and did not address the other benefits.
“No comment at this time,” said Shoprite Group human resource manager for the Erongo region, Joel Kapingana, when he was approached.
The strike commenced on 23 December after the majority of employees voted in favour thereof on 11 December.
This came after the union representing the workers and the company signed the rules for the strike. The workers have vowed to stay on strike until their demands are met.