RUNDU, 29 SEP (NAMPA) -
Over 100 dismissed Shoprite employees at the Rundu Mall (including Hungry Lion employees) are waiting with bated breath for management's response to their objection of dismissal.
Hungry Lion is a subsidiary of the Shoprite brand. The chain grocer dismissed 110 of its employees last Thursday because of an illegal strike on 28 July this year.
Shoprite workers countrywide took part in the strike, demanding better wages and benefits. The demonstration was later deemed illegal by the Director at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Phillip Mwandinga, who said none of the Shoprite employees or their representatives had informed or approached the ministry about the planned strike.
Approached for comment, Branch Manager of Shoprite Rundu, Romanus Gariseb, confirmed the 110 workers' dismissal but refused to add more detail, saying he was not allowed to speak to the media.
An employee who preferred to remain anonymous told Nampa on Monday that workers who were involved in the illegal demonstration were summoned to attend a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 29 August this year. The employees, he said, however refused to attend this hearing as they felt they had no legal representation and thus asked their employer for a postponement to obtain legal representation.
"The next thing we know, the company just took a sudden decision to dismiss us after the workers just asked for a postponement. We received letters of dismissal whilst still at our workstations," he explained.
He said workers were also shocked to notice that Shoprite was busy recruiting and training new staff in their presence. He informed this agency that they were given five working days to appeal against their dismissal, which they did. Their appeal was delivered to Shoprite on Monday this week, and they are currently waiting for the employer's response.
The source maintains that the dismissal of the workers was unfair, as they were not asked to sign warning letters for demonstrating. If the response of Shoprite is not favourable, the source said their next step would be to seek the support of Government through the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, which according to them, was created to alleviate poverty in Namibia; "something some multinational companies appear to not be contributing to".
"Some foreign companies are not adhering to the call of reducing poverty. How can you dismiss 110 employees and think they are not going to languish in poverty. People are now going to end up in the street," the source complained.
The workers who are now without jobs say their lives are heavily affected as some are the breadwinners in their families. The employees say they are disappointed in the manner Shoprite dismissed them, stressing that some have worked for the shop for as long as 25 years.
Meanwhile, a Shoprite employee at Gobabis in the Omaheke Region told this agency on Tuesday that the Shoprite grocer there also laid off close to 16 workers last week and that another 65 workers in Windhoek were summoned to attend a disciplinary hearing.
The dismissal in Omaheke was confirmed by Simpson Ngarizemo, who told Nampa that 16 workers were dismissed on 23 September 2015.A very agitated and angry Ngarizemo said they as workers will not put the matter to rest, and are thus busy drafting a letter to the Governor of Omaheke Region, Festus Ueitele to intervene in the matter.
Attempts to obtain comment from Shoprite Namibia proved futile at the time of filing this story.