Shoprite workers on strike for better working conditions

Shoprite workers demonstrating in front of the shop in King Williams Town demanding better working conditions. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Shoprite workers in King Williams Town have joined a two-day nationwide strike called by their union for better working conditions.

King William's Town, South Africa

About 50 Shoprite workers and members of the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) demonstrated in front of the store in King Williams Town today. The union has embarked on a nationwide two-day strike demanding better working conditions.  Speaking to Elitsha, workers complained of poor salaries, casualisation and not being provided transport in the evening.

Nomfusi Yenge, a 47-year-old deli worker at Shoprite said, “I have been working at the store for 11 years and I’m still a casual.” She pointed out that they are threatened by managers when they try to raise the issue of casualisation. “I earn about R600 a month and I have to look after my children and mother. We want to be made permanent workers and our salaries raised,” said Yenge.

Angeline Speelman, who has recently been made permanent said that the difference between her and casual workers is not really that much: “Now I earn R500 more than what I was earning before I was a casual.” Her status changed after 12 years of employment as a casual worker. “Nothing much has changed,” said the 36-year-old mother of three.

“You see the shop closes at eight and we have to clean and make sure that the stock is packed back nicely, so you only leave work after nine p.m. and as a woman it is not safe to be out on the streets by yourself trying to hitchhike home,” complained Noluvo Galada, a bakery worker who has worked for Shoprite since 2014.

Among the demands by the trade union SACCAWU is the provision of transport by Shoprite for their staff. The union also demands that casual workers who have worked for the company for more than five years be made permanent employees.

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They are also against what they call unilateral changes to working conditions by the company.

Shoprite in King Williams Town has been using scab labour to fill-in for the workers who were on strike. The strike is expected to continue tomorrow.


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