* Shoprite agrees to wage hike of between 15 and 34 percent
* Wage increase is at least three times the minimum wage
* Shoprite says it is satisfied an agreement has been
(Adds Shoprite comment)
By Chris Mfula
LUSAKA, Oct 29 South Africa's Shoprite Holdings
has agreed to increase wages for its Zambian workforce
by up to 34 percent after Lusaka threatened to shut down its
stores over the pay issue.
Shoprite, Africa's biggest retailer, will increase wages for
its roughly 3,000 Zambian workers by between 15 and 34 percent,
said Robert Munsanje, president of the National Union of
"We signed the agreement last week and the lowest paid
worker will now get about 1,500 kwacha ($280) and the highest
paid will get close to 3,000 per month," Munsanje said.
Shoprite this month fired its Zambian workforce after
employees went on strike for higher wages. That prompted labour
minister Fackson Shamenda to threaten to revoke the grocer's
Shamenda has also said Shoprite should pay above the minimum
wage because it is a foreign company. Following the wage deal,
Shoprite would pay at least three times the mininum wage of 520
kwacha in the southern African country.
"The Shoprite Group is satisfied that a new wage agreement
with the union was finally reached in Zambia," spokeswoman
Sarita van Wyk said in a statement.
Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer, is a major market
for Shoprite and other South African retailers looking to offset
weak growth prospects at home.
But the government intervention in the wage talks and the
argument that overseas companies should pay higher wages could
tarnish Zambia's reputation as an investor-friendly frontier
Lusaka attracted more than $3 billion in foreign investment
in the first half of this year, above the government target for
the whole year, President Michael Sata said last month.
Sata swept to power two years ago, promising to defend
workers and reduce poverty in the southern African country.
($1 = 5.3950 Zambian kwachas)
(Reporting by Chris Mfula; writing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng;
editing by David Dolan and Ed Stoddard)