Retail activity at the popular Shoprite Shopping mall along Airport Road in Abuja , has again commenced as workers of the chain store conglomerate called off their protest which paralysed activities at their malls across the country.
It was gathered that the decision was arrived at after a meeting between the representatives of the union and the new management.
Both parties resolved to commence formal negotiations on April 19 at an all-encompassing meeting that will address all outstanding issues bothering on their payment.
The workers, under the aegis of National Union of Shop and Distributive Employees (NUSDE), had vowed that the company would be shut if the management fails to accede to their demands.
A senior staff at the shopping mall who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday on condition of anonymity said , “Our leaders met with members of the new management of the company on Saturday , where they agreed to discuss more on April 19.
Recall that the union which moved for the strike last Friday said the decision to picket their own store over followed what he described as suspected foul play in the alleged sale of the shopping mall.
A staff who gave his name as Tom Peter said, ” we decided to use the Easter period to press home our demands since dialogue failed.
He stated that all Shoprite stores had been shut down nationwide because the negotiation between the union and the management had been deadlocked.
Peter attributed the indefinite strike to the alleged refusal of the management to meet up with the demands of the union.
He said that although the planned transfer of Shoprite to a new owner had been withheld for now, we see this Easter period as the right time to get management to listen to us and accede to our demands.
“However, if the management is not ready to listen to us, it then means that Shoprite is not ready to open this April. We will shut the company down until they listen to us.
“Give us what we want and we will then be ready to discuss with the new investors and have a new agreement with them,” the union leader said.
Meanwhile, the management of the company described the industrial action embarked upon by the workers as ‘unlawful’.
The management, in a memo issued by its divisional human resources manager, Adeola Kagho, the company said that it was appropriate action to be taken against the striking workers, saying that this might include their summary dismissal, should they fail to return to work
Another staff who introduced himself just as James,said trouble started after they received an internal memo informing them that the South African company has outrightly sold its right to a Nigerian investor.
He said, ” On realising that we were sold alongside the company, we immediately rejected the move demanded them to pay us off.
To our shock, ” they dragged us to labour and we signed an agreement, that on or before March 31, they should agree with the staff or they must not handover. Now, they want to use the police to intimidate us, so as to allow them to trade, that cannot be.
“Some of us have been working for between 10 to 15 years with this company. They cannot just sell us like that, if the new investor wants to absolve us, they should employ us back.
“With the contract I signed with Shoprite, I am supposed to retire with them in 2049, I still have about 20 or more years and now, they are saying I have been sold like a commodity to someone, and you want to compensate me with meagre amount after selling me,” he said.