At department store chain Lidl, several stores will be closed on Wednesday as a result of a strike against the persistently high workload. It is not yet clear exactly how many stores are involved, but action is already being taken in Limburg, Antwerp and East Flanders, union sources say. Lidl management regrets the strike.
In Limburg, according to BBTK representative Mary-Anne Smeets, there are at least fifteen stores that are closed on Wednesday morning. Some others can only open their doors for half a day because fewer staff showed up. Lidl stores are also closed in the Kempen and Antwerp. In East Flanders, the action can be felt in the Lidl supermarkets of Deinze, Oudenaarde, Zelzate, Wondelgem, Ghent (Rijhovelaan), Eeklo and Maldegem, says BBTK representative Katrien Degryse. Gullegem’s distribution center is blocked.
At the department store chain, a social conflict about the high workload has been lurking for a long time. There were also campaigns at Lidl this spring: when a number of distribution centers were blocked, among other things.
Management regrets strike
The management of the department store chain regrets the strike action. She hopes to get back together with the unions soon. “We regret that the trade union partners decided on Monday to cancel the meeting,” said Lidl spokeswoman Isabelle Colbrandt. “There was a constructive proposal on the table with numerous measures to improve the work organization of our colleagues in the stores. Unfortunately, the social partners choose to take action. Our customers are the victims of that.”
The management says that several measures have been taken in recent months to optimize the work organization in the stores by automating or outsourcing tasks. And new proposals were formulated that would benefit both the well-being of the branch employees and the operation in the branches. According to the management, there are also initiatives to accelerate the influx of new colleagues. She remains available for consultation.
Wednesday’s actions come after a reconciliation meeting failed earlier this week. The management did not want to respond to a number of demands from the staff, the unions say. For example, the unions requested a measurement of the tasks of the staff over a sufficiently long period, but the management only wanted to do this measurement for one week in a limited number of branches, says the BBTK. The management would like to abolish the introduced reinforcement of 42 hours per week per store from February next year. The reinforcement of a so-called “flying team” is also insufficient, according to the union.