Employees of international jewellery store to strike over pay row

Employees of international jewellery store to strike over pay row
A Lovisa store in Woluwe Shopping Centre.

The staff of an international low-cost jewellery chain will be keeping the doors of the Brussels store closed on Friday as part of a cross-border union action calling for the distressing situation of employees to be resolved.

Trade unions and staff members of the jewellery brand Lovisa, which took over the sales of the European shops Six and I Am, claim that staff are not paid correctly or not paid at all, with "distressing situations as a result." On Friday 1 July, a crossborder action will take place, uniting trade unions from various European countries for the first time.

Employees at the Brussels store on the Place du Monnaie will also take part, according to the Belgian BBTK and ACLVB trade unions. During this strike action, they will be calling on greater protection of staff members.

Continued lack of respect

The social unrest among employees working for the company has been an issue in the past, as it also resulted in the doors of the 11 Lovisa shops in Belgium remaining closed in January as staff went on strike against poor working conditions.

The Australian company, founded in 2010 by billionaire Brett Blundy, has become one of the leading global retailers in fast-fashion jewellery and concluded a deal with the Beeline Group on the sale of part of the European shops Six and I Am in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland in 2020.

"Since the takeover of the Beeline shops by Lovisa, there has been considerable social unrest," a BBTK statement read. The failure to pay staff properly is resulting in some not being able to pay their rent, while some new workers have started working without employment contracts.

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"Consequently, there is a high level of absenteeism due to psychosocial complaints." Problems persist despite repeated attempts to hold discussions with the company.

During the last conciliation meeting two weeks ago, the management didn't turn up, which unions called " the ultimate proof of an absolute lack of respect for the concerns of the workers." Even after a social inspection, the issues were not resolved.

This is why the trade unions are also calling on the government to take action, arguing that all possible avenues have been explored to reach solutions. "It is time for decisive action so that Lovisa finally respects the labour laws and the working conditions can improve."

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