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For as long as I can remember Shoprite workers in all parts of this country and continent have felt that they receive the short end of the stick when it comes to remuneration. Recently, Namibian Labour Minister Erkki Nghimtina, responding to demonstrations by Shoprite workers in that country, argued that Shoprite’s operations were characterised by "low wages and poor conditions of employment". Shoprite read the riot act to workers who received tips from customers in one of its Cape Town stores and charged them with theft. Yet, faced with low (and in some instances variable) pay, instinctively one would accept such a gratuity. Gratuity or theft appears to depend on who sets the rules and policies, and whose hand is stretched out. Last week, "outside investors" attending the Shoprite Group annual general meeting complained that the "excessive" generosity extended to executives needed to be reined in. In absolute numbers, about 30% of the shareholders voted against the group’s remunera...

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