After a meeting with the management that lasted barely fifteen minutes, unions at Delhaize announced further actions. The retailer sticks with its plan to offload 128 supermarkets to franchisers.
Absent CEO angers unions
This morning’s meeting was the first between the management and the unions since last week’s announcement of a plan that would see all integrated stores sold to franchisers. The unions demand the complete withdrawal of that plan, but management maintains its position and is only prepared to discuss details. With such chasm between both positions, it was no surprise that the meeting lasted barely fifteen minutes. CEO Xavier Piesvaux was not present at the meeting, further angering employees and unions.
The unions have immediately announced further actions: “The struggle will be long”, they warn. More meetings are scheduled in the coming weeks, but it is unclear if they can offer any solution. All of this means that employees’ willingness to take industrial action is high: hundreds (if not thousands) of activists showed up at Delhaize’s headquarters in Zellik (near Brussels) this morning. Meanwhile, about a hundred Delhaize stores remain closed today – for the eighth day in a row now. The shops that are open are struggling with empty shelves, because they were not supplied on time.
Employees are particularly concerned about the wage and working conditions in the franchised shops. Delhaize argues that current contracts will be maintained after a takeover, but the unions do not believe this. They demand the application of the so-called Renault law, which provides specific procedures around large-scale dismissals.