By Wardah Wilkinson
Christmas shoppers will find the Shoprite group of stores busier than usual on Friday as employees have embarked on a one day nationwide strike. Members of the South African Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers Union and Congress of South African Trade Unios (Saccawu) and with an expected support of more than 30‚000 Saccawu members at Shoprite supermarkets, operations will be badly affected.
Members are demanding a reversal of changes to working hours, and the reinstatement of workers at one of the branches. Hungry Lion, OK, House and Home, Shoprites and Usave are some of the stores that will be affected.
Speaking to VOC news, the second deputy president of Saccawu Angie Phehle, explained the demands of the Shoprite Checkers workers
“Permanent workers have fixed hours and we do not want it reduced to 22 hours per week. The casuals working hours which has been reduced and we want to have this changed. We want a reversal of changes to working hours.”
She said they were particularly concerned over the safety of female workers travelling late at night.
“Women have been raped and attacked due to not having transport home when working the early shift or night shift. The company is willing to offer counselling but that’s not going to prevent another woman from being raped at 4am,” she added”
She said in Sandton Johannesburg, 22 Shoprite Checker’s employees was dismissed for practising their rights by protesting against the changes‚ safe transport for workers who work night shifts and a guaranteed number of minimum working hours for part-time workers.
“We want them to be reinstated,” said Phehle.
The Congress of South African Trade unions (Cosatu) and Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) are supporting the protected strike.
“Lack of access to safe and reliable staff transportation for women who work extended trading hours is a major problem. Women are left to fend for themselves thus being exposed to activities that negatively affects their human dignity,” said CGE in a statement.
“Gender transformation and women participation in the managerial level remains unaddressed in South Africa’s workplaces.”