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Strikes planned at supermarket distribution depots

08:53 14/11/2023

After negotiations on a purchasing power bonus in the food retail sector reached an impasse, unions have indicated that a strike in supermarket delivery depots is imminent.

The unions are planning two days of strike action on 15 and 22 November.

The aim of the negotiations was to reach a sector-wide agreement in the food retail sector, covering workers in distribution centres and supermarket warehouses, but the consultation has been at a standstill for some time.

Unions are demanding a €250 purchasing power bonus for all staff, as well as further consultation at company level.

Management has countered with proposals that would amount to less than €150 for two-thirds of employees, unions said, and a strike notice has been in force for the sector for some time now.

“This is the equivalent of a strike, with blockades,” Steve Rosseel, national secretary of ACV Voeding en Diensten (Food and Services) union said of the two-day walkout.

Comeos, which represents Belgian trade and services, has called the planned strike "unreasonable".

But Dominik Roland of the ACLVB union said employers simply are not listening.

“The consultations have failed, which is unfortunate,” Roland said. “We don't see any willingness on the part of the employers to reach an agreement. No bonuses for workers, no festivities for employers.”

Speaking through the Comeos trade federation, supermarkets called the strike “highly inappropriate”.

“The sector has been under pressure for some time,” Comeos said.

“According to official figures, the profit margin of Belgian supermarkets fell to an all-time low of 1.29% last year. Anyone who now threatens to take action is jeopardising the future of our supermarkets.”

Written by Helen Lyons