Philippi supermarket workers on strike

Employees demand 15% wage increase

Photo of woman striker

Cleaning worker Nolukhanyiso Mrwebi at the Philippi strike yesterday. Photo: Masixole Feni

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

31 May 2016

About 20 Goal supermarket workers, who are on strike for higher wages, protested outside the supermarket in Philippi yesterday.

The strike, which started last week Thursday, is supported by the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU). The workers are asking for a 15% wage increase.

Shop steward Theo Kalipa said workers had been asking for an increase since last year and had reduced their demands from 15 to 13%, only to be offered 6% by their employer.

“What are we supposed to do with 6%?”

Kalipa said on Friday the protesters had been beaten by private security guards and workers had laid charges of assault at Philippi East police station.

Chris Ngqoyiyana has been working at the supermarket for three years, first as a forklift driver and then as supervisor. “I was given more duties and worked closely with management and my main duty was to guide employees and supervise where necessary. But my salary was never increased even though I was given more responsibility. As a hyster driver I was getting R17.50 an hour, and that is what I am still getting,” he said.

Dumisa Madolo, who had also been promoted to supervisor, from packer, said his wages had not been increased either.

Ngqoyiyana said after the workers stopped work last week and went on strike, new employees had been brought in to replace them.

Wearing red t-shirts, carrying placards and singing, the strikers asked shoppers to boycott Goal supermarket in solidarity with them.

Nolukhanyiso Mrwebi, a cleaner, who works two days a week and weekends as well, complained that workers did not get payslips or protective clothing.

Workers also complained that positions were changed constantly, they were given contracts to sign without being granted the opportunity to read what the contracts were about. They claimed that there was lack of communication from the employer.

Attempts to get comment from Ben van der Merwe, owner of Goal supermarket, were unsuccessful.