Shoprite distribution centre hit by strike
IOL Business - Apr 6th 2016, 09:45
Johannesburg - Outsourced Shoprite workers organised under the #OutsourcingMustFall movement on Tuesday went on strike to protest against poor pay and their employment through labour brokers at the retail giant’s largest distribution centre in Gauteng.
The strike was said to have begun to develop on Monday morning when management allegedly denied four of the workers’ leaders’ entry to the workplace on Olivenhoutbosch Avenue in Centurion.
Groups of workers key to the operation then downed tools in solidarity with their leaders and the nightshift joined the strike.
#OutsourcingMustFall spokesperson Clarence Debeila said this was a blatant attack by the Shoprite management on the democratic right of the workers to organise and to protest.
“Workers have been organising to campaign against outsourcing because nearly 90 percent of the more than 1 000 workers at the site are employed by labour brokers who pay poverty wages.
Protests have been peaceful and legal and have aimed at opening a dialogue with Shoprite management,” he said.
Debeila said outsourced Shoprite workers are said to be paid as little as R23 per hour on a 44-hour week. He said some outsourced cleaners earn as little as R13 per hour.
Three weeks ago, workers held a protest outside the distribution centre where a memorandum was submitted to the management, demanding an end to outsourcing and a minimum wage of R10 000.
The workers also demanded the termination of all contracts with contractors and service providers to be replaced with full-time employment with Shoprite on a permanent basis.
Management replied 7 days later rejecting any responsibility for the workers.
Debeila accused Shoprite of deactivating access cards of the workers’ leaders after unsuccessfully trying to co-opt them into managerial positions at its Sandton office.
“It is clear now that the ‘willingness’ of management to receive the memorandum in the first place was nothing but an intelligence gathering exercise to identify the workers’ leaders and victimise them,” Debeila said.
Debeila said the workers were mobilising communities to join them on a massive protest against Shoprite that would begin at Winnie Mandela Library in Tembisa on Thursday, 14 April.
Shoprite was not immediately available for comment as management and workers’ leaders were locked in a meeting.
For the six months to December 2015, the Shoprite Group increased turnover by 8.8 percent from R57.5 billion to about R62.5 billion.From © Independent On-line 2016. All rights reserved.
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