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H&M employees plan to strike over store closures

The interior of an H&M in the Netherlands. Copyright Twelve Photographic Services, H&M

Eight H&M stores in Belgium announced closures between November 2020 and the end of January 2021, and the union that represents private sector employees said workers will strike over insufficient negotiations regarding the job losses that will occur as a result.

“The proposed plan lacks a more restrictive procedure to save as many jobs as possible through internal reclassifications. At the pace of stores closing, it will no longer be possible to save a job when a store closes at H&M,” says the CNE, or National Central of Employees and Executives of the Private Sector (La Centrale nationale des Employés et des cadres du secteur privé).

The Belgian union says that H&M is closing its stores in a deliberate, “pearl” fashion so as to avoid having to create a more legally binding restructuring plan.

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“Additionally, what is offered for dismissed colleagues as severance pay is totally insufficient,” says CNE.

H&M workers signed a petition asking management to re-make a proposal on these two points, but the union says management has “remained deaf.”

Strikes and protests are planned for the coming days, with “national days of action” to take place in the coming weeks, says the union.

The stores that have announced closures include two in the center of Antwerp, one in Brussels (Boulevard Anspach), one in Ghent, one in Charleroi, and a COS (owned by the same brand) and H&M in Liège.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times