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Last updated: 20 November 2018

FAWU calls on retailers to act against employees assaulting merchandisers

22 November 2018

The Food and Allied Workers' Union (F.A.W.U.) strongly condemns all incidents of verbal and physical assault of merchandisers by employees of various retailers in South Africa. We have found that these horrific incidents are on the increase and takes place on the premises of popular retailers such as Shoprite. We strongly believe that companies must take action against employees engaging in such unbecoming conduct.

We have also seen that these workers are traumatised and often afraid to speak out against the perpetrators in fear of retaliation by persons who occupy senior positions. These incidents often occur at the back of stores and warehouses away from the prying eyes of the general public.

When these victims do manage to come forward, FAWU has to struggle, even in light of clear evidence, to get the retailers to act against the perpetrators who are their employees and is subject to a certain code of conduct while in the work place. It is as if these Shoprite employees are totally ignorant of the law by engaging in barbaric acts. We have in our possession a video recording of a Shoprite employee abusing a younger merchandiser in Potchefstroom in the North-West province. Shoprite has thus far refused any attempts from the union to engage on the matter.

Merchandisers consist mostly of young people desperate for jobs and employed by logistics companies to stock retailers' shelves. Often, they tolerate abuse from supervisors just so that they can continue earning a wage and support their families. We also find they are forced to mop floors and wash shelves, which are not part of their duties. It is morally incomprehensible that these employees from retailers like Shoprite and Checkers feel the need to abuse their seniority to intimidate merchandisers who are simply busy handling stock and performing their duties.

FAWU is determined to expose companies who refuses to act against their employees despite having evidence of gross misconduct. Society cannot tolerate this kind of abusive behaviour and we will not let it go unchallenged. In these instances, we will hold retailers accountable as they become complicit in allowing abuses to flourish through their refusal to take any action against guilty individuals.

FAWU has assisted victims to lay charges against perpetrators and will continue to expose them until companies address these issues and enforce disciplinary procedures. After all, one would hope that these companies would be eager to create a safe space for all employees, irrespective of third party employers so that they can continue their work free from fear and victimisation.

FAWU represents between 20000- 30000 merchandisers at various logistics companies e.g. Imperial Logistics, Permark Sales, the Smollen Group, Pack a Stack and is working hard towards recruiting even more vulnerable merchandisers.

Released by FAWU Media Liaison Officer, Dominique Martin- 08 2498 5631

Please call National Negotiator, Mthunzi Mandondo at 082 493 0794, FAWU President, Atwell Nazo on 079 892 4896 or Deputy General Secretary Mngomezulu Mayoyo on 082440 4039 for more information.