Delhaize strikes: Belgium's Labour Minister appoints mediator to reconcile parties

Delhaize strikes: Belgium's Labour Minister appoints mediator to reconcile parties
Credit: Belga

As the third and last extraordinary works council on Tuesday morning ended in failure, Federal Labour Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne has appointed a mediator to resolve the social conflict around the franchising of 128 Delhaize supermarkets.

Delhaize asked Dermagne to appoint the mediator and indicated that it wants to give "every chance to social dialogue in the interest of workers," Le Soir reports.

"At the end of the meeting (this morning), we had to note that the parties once again failed to engage in a real dialogue on the announcement made by management on 7 March. No other consultation is currently planned at the company level on this file," Dermagne said in a press release.

"Therefore, I asked the social conciliator to take charge of the file and bring the parties together for a consultation. I call on the two sides for an open and constructive dialogue," he added.

'Equivalent signal' from the unions

Delhaize added that it wishes to underline, once again, its willingness to invest in social dialogue and it will continue to do so, adding that it hopes to get an "equivalent signal" from the unions and asks them to make all supermarkets accessible to customers again.

The chain also criticised the social partners for having prematurely interrupted the moments of social dialogue, as during the extraordinary works council on Tuesday – the third since the start of the social conflict. "All questions raised so far have been answered," said the management.

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Delhaize confirmed once again its intention to franchise its 128 directly operated stores and explained that the only objective of this change is to "stimulate the growth and therefore the profitability" of these supermarkets. It assured that there will be no impact on employment since all the staff will be transferred to the new independent managers, "while maintaining wages and working conditions."

Since this announcement, unions and workers have organised numerous protest actions, including the closure of integrated stores; 64 did not open on Tuesday.

At least 500 workers and trade unionists had also gathered outside the Delhaize headquarters to demonstrate during the works council.

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