Peoples, Metro employees strike over Christmas bonuses

It is about two days before Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25 and people everywhere are engaged in bulky shopping of assorted items ranging from food stuffs to clothes in readiness for the annual festivity and Malawians are not left out.

However, on Thursday morning hundreds of Malawian shoppers in Limbe and Blantyre got a rude awakening when, with their skimpy Kwachas in pockets, discovered that Peoples and Metro shops were closed, not for stock taking but because there was nobody to serve them.

Hundreds of Peoples and Metro shops’ employees have gone on strike to force management to give them Christmas bonuses which they have reportedly not received for the past two years.

Metro: Staff strike

The 13th cheque

Some employees who spoke to Nyasa Times outside Limbe Metro Shop along the Masauko Chipembere Highway, confirmed that they have decided to down their working tools to force management to pay them Christmas bonuses, generally referred to as the 13th cheque.

“We have confirmed information from the accounts department that we will not receive Christmas bonuses again. This is the second year running that we have not been considered for the bonuses and we will not budge a step unless we get them,” said one highly charged employee who refused to give her identity.

Another worker, in her late 30s, who said she works as a teller, explained that they feel being used by the management despite generating millions of Kwachas for them monthly.

She said: “We make millions of Kwachas for them and yet they cannot appreciate our work? This is an insult and we will not allow it to happen.”

The employees claimed that since the arrival of their South African operations director (a Mr. Derek) two years ago, they have not received the 13th cheque.

“He is not a human being but wild animal,” yelled another worker. “He treats workers as his farm animals, he can slap you without remorse.”

Nyasa Times failed to seek comments from management as it was reported to be in a closed door to strategise on how to deal with the situation.

Non-performance

Paul de Walder, Managing Director of the Peoples’ Trading Centre (PTC), a parent company of Peoples and Metro, told a business magazine recently, the chain stores used to generate an impressive US$100 million (about K17 billion) per annum.

There are about 100 Peoples outlets for retail and Metro wholesale shops across Malawi that make up the nationwide Peoples’ Trading Centre network that has over 1800 members of staff.

However, Paul de Walder, also told The Nation Newspaper a few months ago that some selected shops across the country will be closed permanently due to non-performance.

Some of the shops targeted for closure included Nsanje, Mselema in Machinga, Santhe in Kasungu, Salima, Mvera in Dowa, Lizulu in Ntcheu, Thete in Dedza and Maulo Metro in Lilongwe.

Recently, PTC Group announced that it had failed to rollout the point of sale (POS) machines in most of its shops due shortage of foreign currency, which has crippled operations of most businesses in the country.

Over the last few years, PTC has increasingly been facing stiff competition from other local retail outlets such as Chipiku and Sana and South Africa’s Shoprite and Game Stores which all have POS devices.

PTC Group is a subsidiary of the conglomerate Press Corporation Limited (PCL) under its retail and consumer segment.

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