KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
ABOUT 140 employees of South African chain stores Food Lovers Market in Lusaka are panicking over their unpaid salaries and prolonged closure of the supermarket.
Speaking this week through a representative, who asked not to be identified, the workers said they have not been paid their salaries since the supermarket closed its vast food store at Levy Business Park in September.
The workers had gathered at the work place on Tuesday in an attempt to meet directors and shareholders of the chain store to facilitate payment of their salaries, but were unsuccessful.
According to the letters issued to the workers when the store closed in September, they were asked to resume work on December 8 but to date the shop remains closed and no renovations are taking place.
â€œThey promised us that we would be paid our salaries while renovations are going on, but this is December and we were only paid October salaries.
â€œThere are actually no renovations going on. Itâ€™s like they just wanted to close. The owners of Food Lovers are South Africans, but it seems the people who were given the franchise have failed to run the shop,â€ one of the workers said.
Another worker said they have been looking for a local director and shareholder to pay them November salaries, but his mobile phone allegedly bars some incoming calls.
He said the affected workers are in a dilemma because they were told not to look for employment else otherwise they may lose their terminal benefits.
â€œWe want to know what is happening because some us have worked for three years since the store opened but we have not been paid any terminal benefits,â€ a woman said.
After a failed attempt to meet directors, the distraught workers marched to New Government Complex where their representatives met Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda.
And National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers (NUCIW) president Robert Musanje has told former Food Lovers workers that the battle line has been drawn between the owners and the workers.
â€œStay united as workers. You will get paid. We will win this battle,â€ Mr Musanje said in his address to the gloomy looking workers yesterday.
KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka