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    Union threatens strike as Blokker becomes Mega World

    © Belga

    Unless there is more clarity on the purchase of Belgium’s Blokker stores by the Dutch Retail Groep, workers there could go on strike, the socialist union Setca warned on Wednesday.

    Dutch Retail Groep announced last week that it was taking over the 123 Blokker stores, with their 670 employees, and transforming them into Mega World discount shops. It said job security would be guaranteed.

    However, there are many questions left unanswered about the takeover, particularly on the issue of job security, according to Inge De Beul, secretary of the stores’ Setca-affiliated union, BBTK. “That’s been promised, but there is nothing on paper,” she said.

    The uncertainty has deepened following news that Dutch Retail Groep owner Dirk Bron is under investigation for fraud in the Netherlands.

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    Setca wants matters to be clarified quickly and is asking for a meeting with Blokker’s former and new owners. “We want an answer this week,” De Beul said.

    Workers have asked questions about their future, working conditions and the new shareholder’s marketing strategy. “Unfortunately, they have been given no serious, concrete response, and management even rebuked people who insisted too much for their liking on getting answers,” Setca said.

    The workers and their representatives are thus “perplexed as to the seriousness and reliability of the new owner,” it added. “Moreover, the Blokker employees are, more than rightfully, growing increasingly worried.”

    Should the questions remain unanswered, Setca says it will request a conciliation procedure next week. If, as the union expects, the conciliation fails to bear fruit, the union will give notice of its intention to go on strike. This could be followed by the closure of stores, while spontaneous actions by staff are not to be excluded, labour representatives say.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times