A strike by employees of a local retailer at Rundu and Nkurenkuru continues. 

The employees, represented by the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAWU), are striking in support of a demand for a salary increase and better working conditions.

The workers are demanding an increase of N$550, inclusive of a transport allowance, while the employer is only willing to offer N$142.50.

"My basic salary is N$1,500, but it can also go down to N$1,300. If you work overtime on a Sunday, it is supposed to increase to at least N$1,800; however, it remains the same. From that money, I have to pay my debts, take care of my children, and pay the water bill. It's nowhere near enough," said Julia Ndala, an employee.

Rundu Representative of NAFAU, Paulus Mushongo, explained further that "their salaries range from N$1,300 to N$1,500. The highest is N$1,700 for someone who has been in the company for 24 years, and the position is just an inside assistant."

Even though the Nkurenkuru shop is closed, the Rundu branch is operational, and the striking workers are accusing the employer of hiring scab labourers while also allowing managers and supervisors to do the work of striking employees. 

"We are working like slaves. They talk to us the way they want, and supervisors treat us the way they want. We complain to the manager, and they don't take any action. How many times do these supervisors beat workers there? We give complaints but no action," said Rupolph Thikundeko, a shopsteward at OK Foods. 

The managing member at Kavango OK Foods says the strike has had a negative impact, not only on the business but also on the employees who are on the "no work, no pay" principle. 

With one shop already closed, the striking workers are now calling on locals to boycott the shop. 

"I am always ready. The company is always ready; of course, the company has limits unless I have to reduce the workforce or do something else. The halfway approach at this point is impossible, but the company is always willing to negotiate. The starting point for the employees was way too high, unreasonably high." 

OK Foods in Rundu is one of the oldest shops in town, having been operational for about four decades. This is the first time employees of the retailer are on strike.

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Frances Shaahama