Lidl has been threatened with strike actions that could disrupt its Belgian stores during the festive period as staff continue to struggle with increased workloads.
Previous strike actions over the same issue saw hundreds of the supermarket chain's stores close their doors in October. Although a preliminary agreement was reached between trade unions and Lidl management that resulted in shops reopening, the socialist trade union BBTK argued on Monday that the promised changes have not yet been made.
'The commitments, the promised additional jobs, they have not materialised,' a press release from the union stated.
'The 14 hours/week in each shop are still not there, the shops most in trouble have still not received the announced additional workforce and the part-time team will not be reinforced before the holidays. They are seriously playing a joke on us.'
The union said that it signed an agreement with Lidl after several days of collective action and shops being closed, but argued that not all points of contention, which "have been on the table since May 2018," have been resolved.
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A new meeting between the union and Lidl's management is scheduled for Wednesday; BBTK says that the management will either have to "reinforce staff or the holidays are in danger of being disrupted at Lidl."
Staff shortages further exacerbated
Lidl has started discussions with its social partners in response to these threats, says Isabelle Colbrandt, head of corporate communication at Lidl Belgium.
"We have developed a number of additional initiatives to find a solution for the staff shortage in the subsidiaries concerned," she told The Brussels Times.
She mirrored BBTK's point that Lidl is "also feeling the impact of the increasing number of coronavirus infections, which increases the sickness rate among staff, through illness but also through quarantine." According to the union, this has made the work pressure for staff "unbearable."
According to Colbrandt, the supermarket chain's management is doing everything it can to resolve the issue.