While large retailers are struggling to find a balance between rising energy costs, wage indexation and difficult negotiations with suppliers, a new grain of sand has come to stop the machine at Delhaize.
After a vast restructuring plan which led to the dismissal of 2000 workers, the Lion brand had to work on a new organizational model to compensate for these departures. But the reorganization carried out in 2019 to make the stores run more efficiently has never been accepted by the Christian and liberal unions. If Setca had joined initially, it then retracted. A conciliation meeting took place on Monday but did not lead to an agreement. Setca and CGSLB have therefore filed a strike notice which will expire in two weeks. However, the management does not seem willing to revise its plans, so that the strike seems inevitable.
The trade unions regret that the Belgian entities of the large retail groups are given very little consideration and run by bosses who do not know enough about the Belgian culture of social consultation. A problem that is not unique to Delhaize because social tensions are just as strong at Carrefour and Lidl.
In addition, “supermarkets have engaged in a price war which leaves little room for maneuver for a better balance between turnover and staff well-being”, denounces Myriam Delmée, president of Setca.
Many stores have indeed the noose between the rise in energy prices, dizzying inflation or even the decline in purchasing power. On the edge of the abyss, some franchisees are threatened with bankruptcy and can therefore only cut back on staff costs in an attempt to survive. According to Myriam Delmée, the inevitable end of Makro is only the beginning. Others will follow because no brand is in excellent health today.
It’s the whole retail model that needs to be reviewed to avoid further restructuring and layoffs. If the Liberals plead for more student work or flexijobs, the unions see this as a real threat of seeing skilled retail jobs go by the wayside. “It would simply be pushing back the wall a little bit, without however slowing down the race which brings us straight into it”, indicated Myriam Delmée to our colleagues from Gondola.