NEGOTIATIONS between Shoprite and the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) on the salary increment of workers has still not been resolved.
Shoprite’s lawyers yesterday wrote a letter to NAFAU requesting the workers’ union to urge striking employees to desist from violating the striking rules as various acts of violence were supposedly recorded at shops countrywide.
According to the lawyers represented by ENSAfrica, acts of intimidation, violence, threats of violence and blocking of entrances to the shops by union members have been observed.
NAFAU Deputy General Secretary, Willem Absalom, however, denies that the striking employees used any form of violence against non-striking employees or Shoprite itself.
According to Absalom, Shoprite is still allowing “seasonal workers” and non-striking employees to do the job of those currently on strike despite the high court judgement last week.
Absalom noted that those actions are a direct violation of the court order.
“They are ignoring the court order and that is wrong. This is angering the striking employees. Community members are sympathising with the workers. I have not heard of any violent behaviour from the striking workers, but I can tell you that no one will just attack you unprovoked. I’ll give you an example of when I visited Checkers in Wernhil and the manager there simply chased me away and called security on me, a clear violation of the court order which permits union members to do routine checkups and to observe whether or not Shoprite is following the strike rules,” Absalom said.
On the response to the letter from Shoprite lawyers, Absalom said that the General Secretary, Jacob Penda, informed him that a response was issued, although he says that he is not privy to its content.
Penda could not be reached for comment.
Shoprite had threatened to approach the labour court for interdictory relief and to seek a cost order against the union and striking workers for damages, should the union fail to respond, condemn the violent behaviour and fail to inform striking employees to refrain from the “complained conduct.”
“We record that since Saturday, 9 January, your representatives engaged in various acts of disrupting the operations of our clients and business at various stores. Shoprite Okahandja had to be closed on Monday, due to your representatives and striking staff members disrupting operations and intimidating staff. The keys of our client’s forklift had also been removed. The branch manager was also attacked by a union official,” the letter reads.
According to the lawyers, at Shoprite Keetmanshoop striking staff demanded that non-striking staff should leave the store and allegedly threatened the manager with arrest by the Police.
Shoprite also alleges that striking staff at Swakopmund Checkers prevented
customers from entering the store, while a customer was assaulted at Swakopmund Shoprite.
The letter, addressed to NAFAU’s Secretary General, also claims that the said perpetrators escaped in a vehicle.
“Union officials, striking staff members and sympathisers prevented customers from entering the shop to do their shopping. Offloading of delivery vehicles was also prevented,” the letter further stated.
The series of claims have been listed as follows:
Tsandi Usave, striking staff members entered the bulk store, disrupted the operations and refused to leave and demanded that the store should close;
Rehoboth Shoprite, striking staff members and/or union officials/representatives disrupted operations and wanted to remove non-striking staff members;
Rundu Shoprite, striking staff members blocked the staff entrance and prevented non-striking employees to enter. A member of NAFAU also informed other striking staff members who participated in the blocking of the said entrance to assault the non-striking employees, including the manager. The striking staff members also blocked the customer entrance;
Walvis Bay Shoprite, union officials and/or representatives and/or striking staff members, told customers not to buy from Shoprite Walvis Bay. Furthermore, certain union officials and/or striking staff members failed to gather and/or remain that the place where they may gather and wanted to enter the store by force.
Windhoek Shoprite (Independence Avenue), non-striking employees were threatened by the union officials and/or striking staff members to leave the store.