For the time being, Delhaize will no longer supply fresh food to its stores, both those under its own management and the franchise stores: the workers in the crucial distribution center in Zellik have now also gone on strike. They are also dissatisfied with their working conditions, although this dissatisfaction is not directly related to the fuss surrounding the Delhaize management’s plan to sell its own stores.
The distribution centers in Zellik and Ninove are the logistical arteries of Delhaize: they are responsible for supplying the stores. But on Wednesday night things went completely wrong in Zellik. Workers, especially from the Christian trade union ACV, prevented trucks from driving out, and also made it more difficult for people willing to work. Delhaize then called in bailiffs.
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Geert Sanders of the socialist trade union ABVV Horval criticizes Delhaize’s attitude. “People know that there are tensions and frustrations, and yet the management does not want to enter into a dialogue. It is always derailed first. Why? What’s the meaning of this?”
At Delhaize, spokesman Roel Dekelver says that the problems in Zellik are the result of the merger of two distribution centers and the subsequent introduction of a new work organization. The intention of the merger was that the workers of one warehouse could also lend a hand in the other warehouse. This was not possible in the old work description. There is also a temperature difference of 5 degrees in both storage locations. But on Wednesday night, the temperature rose, especially among the workers.
Currently, no fresh food is being delivered anymore. This promises to have important consequences for the supermarket chain’s own and independent supermarkets. Many Delhaize stores are experiencing supply problems. There is a problem, especially in fresh food. That risks discouraging customers.
Cocktail of frustrations
The problems in Zellik are separate from Delhaize’s plan to sell its own stores, but only make the malaise worse. It also leads to staff frustration. The employees at the head office, where layoffs are already taking place, feel like the forgotten group. Some white-collar workers, on the other hand, feel that the workers in the warehouses are hijacking the action.
Delhaize thus looks at a complicated cocktail. “We are open to dialogue. But management is silent. I don’t understand why Delhaize is acting this way,” says Sanders.