The National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers says the nationwide work stoppages that have crippled operations of all Shoprite Stores and its sister company Hungry Lion will continue until management responds to the workers’ demands.
Robert Munsanje, the National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers (NUCAIW) president says management should value their workforce.
“If management won’t co-0perate, the workers will continue with the strike action because they are just stingy and greedy with all the moneys they get out of the operations,” Munsanje said.
He charged that among the complaints from the workers was the paying of a bare minimum wage to workers as well as the reduction in the workers’ allowances.
Munsanje said this after a meeting with a Ms Ndale, and labour deputy minister Ronald Chitotela at the Ministry of Labour which failed to solve the impasse.
“The workers are complaining about management’s lack of consideration for the workers including never ending salary negotiations since February 2013, the reduction of some allowances and the issue of what management calls ‘special workers’ who get K70 per week,” he said.
The union vowed that their members would not return for work with the concerns raised by the workers who should be sharing in the huge profits the company made in Zambia, and challenged management to meet the demands in the name of partnership as stakeholders of the business.
And in Kabwe, the workers refused to open the supermarket but instead gathered around the premises singing songs denouncing management while the building was spread with placards carrying different messages. Customers were sent away.
In an interview with the Daily Nation, the workers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said management has cancelled negotiations for salary increments this year and while workers in other sectors have had their salaries increased, theirs have remained static. They also accused the company of not having a good staff welfare programme and victimising workers.
“Here we get as little as K800 and now how can you survive from that? There are no loans in the company, they cancelled negotiations for new salaries and management are fond of victimising workers, as we talk right now our union chairman Misheck Siwale was fired over flimsy grounds,” said the workers.
Meanwhile, the management in the leading supermarket chain says the strike action is unlawful and has called on the workers to return to work or face disciplinary action.
In a memorandum dated October 14 and obtained by the Daily Nation, divisional personnel manager Andrew Muntangambelwa Mwala said the strike action was illegal and urged the workers to return to work by 10:00hrs the same day.
“Your conduct is in breach of employment, company procedure, collective agreements and the industrial and labour relations Act No. 27 of 1993. The rule of ‘no work-no pay’ shall also apply for as long as you continue to participate in this unlawful strike/ work stoppage.
The company will also take appropriate disciplinary action which may include dismissal should you not return to work by 10:00 am today,” read the memorandum in part.
Some placards spread around the building read ‘Is Shoprite more powerful than the PF government?’ ‘Where is the minister of labour?’ ‘Wrong implementation of minimum wage by management’.