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Carrefour grapples with surge in customers as Delhaize stores remain closed during strike
Following a nationwide strike of Delhaize staff after the grocery chain announced it would be switching all stores over to a franchise model, Carrefour supermarkets have found themselves overwhelmed with customers.
There are 128 Delhaize stores that stand to be affected by the sudden switch, and 113 have closed in protest – meaning 113 less places for people to get their groceries.
The result is that competitor Carrefour is seeing a surge in new shoppers, so much so that the chain has had to adapt with extra staff and supplies.
“We had to increase our orders and react with staff resources,” Maxence De Maeseneire, one store manager, told RTL.
“We called in quite a few students to make sure that the service at the checkouts was as fast as possible and above all that we could restock our shelves.”
In Liège, one Delhaize car park was empty over the weekend – normally a popular shopping time – but many cars pulled in not realising the location was closed, only to promptly leave.
“I said to myself, 'I'll see what's going on.’ If it's open, I'll go. If it's not open, I'll go next door,” one such customer explained.
Many customers were not particularly bothered by the inconvenience, saying that they supported the strike.
“I am completely with them,” one told RTL. “I worked there for a few years. Frankly, they're really in trouble.”
The Delhaize closures are expected to continue at least until Tuesday, at which point a works council is scheduled to discuss the issue and potentially take action.
“There are 113 shops closed, and 15 are open,” a Delhaize spokesperson said, adding that switching to the franchise model is “the only option to continue to invest in a sustainable future for Delhaize”.
But Myriam Djegham, permanent secretary at the CNE trade union, said: “Unions expect the political world to take action against the attitude of multinationals that abuse the law.”
Delhaize staff launched a petition to keep the shops under Delhaize’s own management, rather than franchising.
“We, the staff members, ask Delhaize to back down for the sake of its staff and customers,” the workers say, adding that they want guarantees to preserve all their rights and working hours, including seniority bonuses, meal vouchers, fair wages and the 13th month bonus.
“We have asked your customers to sign this petition if they agree, and we are sending a copy to members of the government while waiting for a response from you.”
Photo: Philippe François/Belga
The petition gathered more than 10,000 signatures over the weekend.