THE Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Utoni Nujoma, has joined the voices calling for Namibians to boycott Shoprite and its subsidiaries after it violated a court order disallowing the hiring of temporary workers while employees are on strike.
Shoprite, as the first respondent, was interdicted and ordered not to hire 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.
In a statement issued this week, Nujoma said that the agreement that Shoprite entered into with the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) not to use scab workers or to assign employees to perform the work of the strikers is binding, and the reasoning of the court in granting the interdict is clear.
“I am informed that a few days after the interdict order was issued, the company decided not to comply with the interdict. NAFAU has now applied to the Labour Court to punish Shoprite for contempt of court. The details of the alleged contempt of the interdict order are contained in the papers filed with the court and are available to the public to familiarise themselves with the detailed allegations,” Utoni said.
Nujoma added that right now, Shoprite has apparently decided to “commit considerable money’ to apply to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
“Under this guise, Shoprite continues to use scab labour, to assign struck work to other employees and to deny the union access to its stores to monitor compliance with the strike rules 23,” explained Utoni.
He further bemoaned a form which is being circulated requesting Shoprite employees to sign an undertaking to abandon the strike and to end their mandate to NAFAU to represent them in collective bargaining.
The letter also threatens to dismiss employees who re-join the strike.
“By now it is public knowledge that the union has been asking the public and other consumers not to buy from Shoprite and its subsidiaries until the strike or dispute is dissolved. The ministry supports this position,” Utoni stated.
At a press briefing today, Secretary General of NUNW, Job Muniaro, said that Shoprite continues to undermine the country’s laws and rules.
“They are circulating a form which contradicts the labour law. If Shoprite is willing to take the law into its own hands, everyone should be allowed to do so,” Muniaro stated.
He added that in the absence of a resolution, Shoprite should relieve all scab workers from their shops and close down.