Over 100 Delhaize supermarkets remain closed as staff protest against franchise

Over 100 Delhaize supermarkets remain closed as staff protest against franchise
A closed entrance due to a strike at a Delhaize supermarket. Delhaize decided at Tuesday morning's extraordinary works council to transfer all 128 stores that are still under their own management to independent operators. Credit: Belga/Katleen Vastiau.

Delhaize stores across Belgium will remain closed on Wednesday due to staff actions following the announcement of its plan to franchise all of its stores.

The supermarket chain on Tuesday announced its intention to make all of its 128 shops into their own operations. In protest, more than 100 shops remained closed yesterday.

"About 100 shops will keep their doors closed," a spokesperson for the supermarket chain said regarding the continued strikes on Wednesday. The announcement from Delhaize came in direct contradiction to assurances previously given to staff.

"All employees of the supermarkets concerned will keep their jobs and make the transition," Delhaize said following its widely-condemned announcement. "They will also maintain their current wages and working conditions." However, the supermarket chain did admit that the decision would lead to a gradual reduction of positions at the company's headquarters.

Home deliveries

Delhaize will also stop its Collect service on 20 March; this allows customers to preselect their groceries before collecting them from a physical shop. As an alternative, it will temporarily make its home deliveries free due to the dozens of shops with collection points closed due to the strike. Under normal circumstances, home deliveries cost between €5.95 and €12.95 per order.

The delivery service is not interrupted as deliveries are made from an e-commerce depot in Puurs, Flanders. The staff in the depot will not be affected by the plans, as Delhaize plans to keep that activity in-house.

According to Delhaize spokesperson Roel Dekelver, the home delivery service has sufficient capacity to meet higher demand.

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Meanwhile, Delhaize is trying to donate the goods with a short shelf life that are in the closed shops to social organisations such as food banks.

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