The Namibia Commercial Catering Food and Allied Workers Union (NACCAFWU) has slammed a decision by Shoprite Group of Companies to award its chief executive officer (CEO), Whitey Basson, a R50 million bonus for the last financial year.
It was recently reported in the South African press that Basson pocketed about R100 million in the last financial year: R49,7 million in remuneration and a R50 million bonus.
South African civil society organisations have pointed out that it would take the average shopfloor worker at Shoprite more than 290 years to earn what Basson gets in one month.
NACCAFWU is a Namibian National Labour Organisation (Nanlo) affiliate.
Its deputy secretary general Joseph Garoëb called on government to address the issue, saying it might push workers to strike and criticised Basson’s bonus as a slap in the face of Namibian Shoprite workers, who earn as little as N$1 200 per month, despite working long hours.
“It is sincerely unfair for one individual to be accorded such an increment based on performance. One fails to understand how it is possible for him to get such a huge amount, as if he has performed exceptionally alone,” said Garoëb. “An ordinary worker earns N$300 per week, taking into account his or her earnings of N$1200 per month. This is not fair,” he added.
He said currently Shoprite workers do not have any housing or transport allowance, no medical aid, no proper uniform and most are living in conditions of extreme poverty.
Garoëb said this only indicates that managers, like Basson, are cost-cutting at the expense of workers in order to get paid exorbitant salaries and massive bonuses.
He said the problem would never end if unions and the workers do also not stand up to demand fair pay and bonuses.
He said: “In my own judgment the demands of the workers are justifiable if the Shoprite group of companies can pay so much to one individual.”
He said this year Shoprite workers were given a 10 percent increment on an average salary of N$900 per month, which amounts to an increase of N$90. “Imagine how it would have encouraged workers to get a decent pay raise, but clearly the fruits of the workers’ tirelessly efforts to boost the company’s profitability is enjoyed by one individual,” he said, adding that this will in all likelihood further demoralise shopfloor workers.
“All in all [the effect of] this is to marginalise workers and to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer,” he added. “The struggle of workers for better conditions of employment will continue in Namibia,” he concluded.