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Christmas shopping continued despite Shoprite Checkers one-day strike

By Afikile Lugunya - Dec 23, 2017
Christmas shopping continued despite Shoprite Checkers one-day strike

More than 30 000 Shoprite Checkers workers, who are aligned with the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), on Friday embarked on a one-day nationwide strike to call for better working conditions.

Speaking ahead of the strike, Sizwe Pamla, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) National Spokesperson, said; "These workers will be demanding an immediate end and reversal of the unilateral changes to working hours; including the reinstatement of Sandton Checker's employees, who were subsequently dismissed for protesting against these changes.

"They also demand the provision and payment of safe transport for workers who work night shifts.

"An immediate end to the reduction of working hours for part-time workers [and] a guaranteed number of minimum working hours for part-time workers."

In the Port Elizabeth CBD, a small number of Shoprite workers marched to the Vuyisile Mini Square where they later handed over their memorandum of demands.

Still, at the Shoprite supermarket, situated a few minutes away, it was business as usual as people continued with their Christmas shopping unhindered.

The plan had been to disrupt business at the Shoprite and Checkers stores just before the Christmas long weekend, it appears things did not end up that way – at least at this store.

Ntombizodwa Zothani, Provincial Treasurer of the South African Communist Party (SACP) Eastern Cape, who came to support members of SACCAWU, said: “Most workers didn’t attend the strike due to the fear of losing their jobs because most of them are casual workers, who don’t have enough workers’ rights to fight for what they rightfully deserve.

“The salary they receive is a small change and their fear is to lose their jobs after embarking on a strike, but we hope that as we continue to fight for them, their fear will decrease and they will understand that when a strike is protected, there shouldn’t be fear,” she described.

She added that: “These unfavourable working hours will not improve because of fear; a worker cannot be a coward, and they must learn to be tough because this strike is protected nobody will be fired.”

The second Deputy President of SACCAWU, Mike Tau, said that although the turn up was not good, that didn’t demonstrate failure.

“We are not going to allow full-time workers to work hours that are supposed to be worked by part-timers.

“We are saying that to all regions soon after the march, they much go back to assess the march and give us full report and we will meet as executive structures of SACCAWU and decide on what to follow,” he added.

WATCH his full speech below: 

35-year-old, Nandipha Madodonke, who is a single mother of two, said that she has been working for Shoprite for 12 years and has been training the new staff to become her managers for years, hoping that one day she would also qualify for a better position.

“They don’t allow us to apply to managerial positions, instead they take children that have completed Grade 12 in high school, and we train them to become our bosses while we also have Matric,” she described.

Her hope and that of many other Shoprite Checkers workers lies in the hands of SACCAWU.