Delhaize management has internally announced that each of the 128 supermarkets under the company's current management already has at least one buyer, RTBF revealed on Wednesday, which the Belga News agency confirmed.
Coming on the heels of yet another failed works council meeting on Tuesday, Delhaize sent an internal communication to its employees informing them that each store has at least one potential buyer, while 75% of the shops even have two.
Contacted by RTBF, the President of Setca Myriam Delmée called the letter a "provocation from management." According to Delmée, Delhaize has been "waging a communication war to try to discredit what the workers and their representatives are trying to put in place."
According to the letter sent by Delhaize, the candidates "spontaneously expressed their interest" to take over the shops that the supermarket chain announced they will franchise. Of the potential buyers, 41% are internal employees, 44% are branch managers and 15% are new potential branch managers, all of whom Delhazie called "true entrepreneurs, who have a passion for Delhaize, its employees and its customers".
280 jobs at risk
Once the transaction is complete, Delhaize stated in the letter that the buyer will receive "full support to ensure a smooth transition." The support referred to includes a preparation and transition phase of between six and 12 weeks, meetings, and training and support in terms of IT and technology needed for the role of shop owner.
According to RTBF, the management of Delhaize did not hide the fact that jobs will be lost in its internal communication. "The transition from own supermarkets to affiliated shops will lead to a gradual reduction in the number of positions in the head office." In concrete figures, it is reported that 280 jobs will be under threat while 72 will be created – all of which will be "management positions."
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As for those who will lose their jobs, the management at Delhaize promised support in their search for a new position, in the form of CV and cover letter writing, workshops and career advice, as well as job days organised by Delhaize and mental health support. "our psychosocial counsellors are there to help you deal with stress, doubt and anxiety and to offer professional support," the letter reads.
The letter added emphasis to the supermarket's assertion on Tuesday that it still intends to franchise the shops in question. After another meeting with no agreement, Delhaize asked Federal Labour Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne to appoint a mediator to solve the conflict between the supermarket and the unions.