Shoprite worker fired for “reporting abuse to media”

In another latest development in the controversial “Shoprite house”, an Oshakati based worker got fired yesterday by her superiors after having been accused of reporting abuse of workers to the media.

Her firing comes shortly after The Villager conducted an underground investigation into the shop on allegations that some long -term serving employees were being paid peanuts.

The article did not go down well with management who pinned the blame on one worker, identified only as Helena Jacob, after which investigations carried out led to a hearing which decided to kick her out with immediate effect.

Although The Villager ethically kept the name of the Whistleblower protected, Helena informed that another version of the same article was circulating at her workplace which had her name on it.

This is also inspite of an unidentified woman who was conducting the hearing having called this publication to verify whether Jacob had indeed provided the damming information.

This publication reported earlier that a worker of ten years was earning a measly N$1 700, which had been increased from a weekly salary of N$200 and N$1600.

“They are chasing some one, even if it was just me who gave such information, they mean I don’t have the right to say anything? Because even in the hearing, they just stated that if we think we are not getting enough money why did (we) go to print (media),” she said.

She added that the woman responsible for investigations into the matter, whom she identified only as Adele Strodite, failed to provide evidence that indeed it was her who had blown the whistle of labour exploitation at Shoprite.

“In the hearing when I asked them for the proof, they told me the proof was on somebody’s phone and they would not mention (the name) of that somebody and that somebody is on leave and the phone is broken,” she said.

 Strodite did not pick up her phone when reached for comment.

 Meanwhile, Jacob intends to file a case against the super-market for falsifying information by pinning her name to an article which originally does not bear her name as well as unfair dismissal.

“They are accusing me of something that I did not do, I don’t know if I have to take that to the police or what,” she fumed adding that she has no other means of earning income at the present moment.

Pressed on whether she had been given her salary package, Jacob said she has been asked to show her face at work today to “fill up the papers of my pension fund and they will give me the money that I worked for maybe on the 27th and my leave days.”

The Villager also called Shoprite Oshakati regional manager, David Shapwa to comment on the fairness of their decision but he said he was not the right person to talk to the media.

“We have someone who is speaking to the media at Shoprite Head Office in Windhoek. So you may contact her and find out from there,” he said before cutting the phone.

 The Human Resource officer, who did not identify herself by name did acknowledge hearing about the matter in Oshakati but said those dealing with Internal Relations (IR) were not available.

Southern Times has also reported that Shoprite shareholders ignored the Namibian government’s call for a meeting to address the issue of alleged exploitation of workers at Shoprite stores in Namibia.

 “Namibia’s labour ministry has gathered a dossier on Shoprite’s alleged exploitative behaviour. Some of the information in the dossier states that 42% of the Shoprite/Checkers employees in Namibia are classified as ‘permanent part-time employees’. The workers in that category perform the same amount of work as permanent employees but are not entitled to benefits and are subjected to lower wages,” said The Southern Times in its report.

 Labour activist, Hebert Jauch, speaking with this publication recently, also suggested that the supermarket needs to be hit by a “consumer boycott” until it puts it house in order as far as labour matters are concerned.  

Meanwhile, the labour ministry could not be reached for comment until the time of publication.