Shoprite workers feel abused by company

Phantsi nge ngcinezelo (Down with oppression).

Workers at Shoprite Milnerton picketed outside the store last week, claiming that their worker rights were being abused by the company.

A group of workers protested at the entrance of the Milnerton store on Wednesday March 28 with complaints ranging from not being provided transport for late shift workers to not being allowed to use the restrooms to relieve themselves.

Busisiwe Salman has been working at the store for three years and doesn’t have a permanent contract.

“I find it horrible that we are still classified as casuals but we have been working here for all this time. We are dissatisfied at our place of work. We work from 8am to 8pm and are often not even allowed to go to the bathroom.

“We have to beg like schoolchildren just to go relieve ourselves. In our contracts, it says we should get at least 30 minutes tea break and one hour lunch break per shift. We only get 30 minutes lunch break here,” said Ms Salman.

She said they don’t get paid for overtime hours they work.

Hazel Blom, who lives in Joe Slovo and has been working at the store for two years, said what they get paid is not a reflection of the hours they worked.

“When we work the 8am to 6pm shift, they give us a hard time when we have to leave. They will say things like ‘you can see the shop is busy so you can’t leave.’

“We don’t even get paid for those extra couple of hours we work afterwards. When the shop is busy and you haven’t eaten all day, they will tell us to go to the office and make ourselves polony sandwiches and we will have to eat that meal in a hurry while standing,” she said.

Celiwe Sodlala from Dunoon, who started working at Shoprite Milnerton at the end of January, said: “If you are sick at work, they won’t let you go, they say go a take a nap in the office. If you miss a couple of days work and bring back a doctor’s note, you still won’t get paid for those days. This is unacceptable.”

One of the picketers said another major concern was that they didn’t get staff transport, especially when they had to work late hours.

She said when they left late, they often had to stand on the opposite side of the road from the store on Koeberg Road to wait for taxis and the MyCiTi buses, which became really dangerous — and will become more so in winter.

Tabletalk sent a long list of questions about these specific complaints to Shoprite and they replied but did not answer all the accusations levelled against them.

“The Shoprite Group can confirm that a two-day work stoppage in some Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets in South Africa only by members of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), representing only a portion of employees, will take place on Wednesday March 28 and Thursday March 29.

“The group is disappointed that customers may not experience the service in its stores that it would like to deliver in preparation for Easter, but it respects the rights of employees to protest in a peaceful and lawful manner,” said Shoprite.

They went on to say that it was their priority, as the Shoprite Group, to resolve the matters which had been discussed over a period of time through the appropriate channels in the interest of all employees, as well as their customers.

SACCAWU provincial secretary, Crosby Booi, said they had been in negotiations with Shoprite Checkers since last year about some of the issues raised.

“We went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration last November but we still could not come to an agreement. Right now, we have taken the matter to the Labour Court as a counter proposal by Shoprite had been rejected by the workers. All of this is on a national level.

“As things stand, there is no resolution but we anticipate Shoprite to contact us so that we can go back to the table for more discussions,” said Mr Booi.