By Sahabi Abdul
Shoppers who trooped out to Shoprite stores across Nigeria on Friday to shop for Easter were turned back by protesting workers.
The South African grocery chain had announced last year it was selling its Nigerian business and pulling out of Africa’s biggest economy. Uncertainties over exchange-rate and supply-chain difficulties had made the continent’s biggest market unpalatable.
Workers for the 25 stores located across Nigeria sent a Good Friday message that they were being left in the lurch with their interests and concerns yet to be addressed.
“We don’t know what’s our future and the company hasn’t discussed a severance pay,” said Rashidat Braimoh, one of the protesting workers at the Silverbird Galleria, Abuja.
Two recessions in four years, each triggered by the collapse of the price of oil, the country’s main export, helped lay bare the vulnerability of a petroleum- dependent economy. The latest one was compounded by the prolonged lockdown that followed the cotonavirus pandemic.
About half of Nigeria’s population is officially living in poverty, while the middle class shopper the company counted on in their business model is currently beleaguered. Shoprite has also been accused of unfair labour practices in its exit plan.