Reporter : VITALIS ECHEOZO
Members of staff of Africa’s largest food retailer, ShopRite, have protested against alleged plans by the multinational company to lay them off following alleged sale of the firm.
The protesting ShopRite workers were seen in their numbers at the Tuesday morning as they blockaded the entrance of the mall, and shut down operations, chanting solidarity songs with placards.
The inscriptions included “we cannot be sold like ShopRite bread,” “we say no to modern slavery” and “pay us off.”
The ShopRite Enugu mall Union Chairman, Comrade Ejike Nnamani, told Radio Nigeria that the top management of the firm, which included South Africans and Nigerians, failed to communicate effectively to members of staff of the company before the sale of the company alongside transfer of service of the workers to the new firm.
“We are asking what is our faith? If it is shares, at least we know that ShopRite South Africa still has some shares in the company.
“At least we know that things will still remain the same, but since it is one hundred percent sale, we the staff are left with nothing,” the union chairman cried out.
Comrade Nnamani also lamented that ShopRite was already in breach of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the company and its workers on review of service.
“The trade union had a contract with ShopRite that every two years there should be an increment of workers’ salaries, about staff welfare and also add some allowances to the workers’ salaries.
“And this has been going on for some years now but they are telling us this year that there is nothing like that anymore,” Comrade Nnamani pointed out.
Some other agitating members of staff of the company expressed anger about the alleged ill treatment meted to them by their employers.
Hear one of them, Ozonna Emmanuel complain.
“If the company has sold the store along with us, they should equally pay us our percentage, they should pay us off.”
Another member of staff, Vera Ogechukwu Udeh, argued “they should pay us off, we have served
them for ten good years, they sold ShopRite and they also said they sold the staff along with ShopRite to the new investors.”
When reached on the phone for his reaction on the matter, the General Manager of ShopRite Nigeria, Mr. Karl Ericson, delegated his Marketing Manager, Mr. Biodun, to respond to the issue but he said that he needed more time to give his response.
Meanwhile Radio Nigeria gathered from the workers that the protest was nationwide as their colleagues in other branches across the country also shut down business activities.