Shoprite stores close in Joburg as staff protest over 'lazy k*****s' slur
Shoprite supermarkets in Johannesburg south closed their doors on Wednesday as angry employees downed tools and called for the suspension of a regional manager who allegedly called workers "lazy k*****s".
Workers shut down the Southgate and Ridgeway supermarkets and threatened to close down more stores which fall under the regional manager.
They said they had suffered enough abuse and vowed to protest until the manager was suspended.
The alleged k-word incident on Saturday caused outrage. "We have been quiet because she is a boss, we are scared of being fired because we need the jobs," said an employee who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation.
Protesters were joined by community members and leaders. One of them, Ntsizwa Mabota, urged Shoprite to act swiftly.
"Our fellow brothers cannot be still subjected to this barbaric treatment anymore. We will stand with them all the way. We demand that [the manager] is suspended with immediate effect or we will shut down all these supermarkets in Joburg," said Mabota.
Shoprite Holdings said in a statement that it did not condone racism. An investigation is under way.
"The Shoprite Group strongly disapproves of racism in the workplace and will not allow any member of management or staff to behave inappropriately. An investigation into the incident at Shoprite Southgate and related complaints started immediately ... and a disciplinary process is being followed," Shoprite said.
Shoprite said it was aware of its responsibility to provide a good working environment to staff, including contractors and merchandisers.
"Appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the law and the company’s code of conduct, which seeks to promote the principles of courtesy, respect and equality for all employees, including merchandisers and contracted workers and which applies to all management and staff," added Shoprite.
Police confirmed that a group had been protesting but referred queries to Shoprite.