Lidl workers in Belgium strike

Mon 18/10/2021 by Richard Wilkinson
Lidl employees going on strike in Belgium on October 2021. Photo taken by Swen Dillen, source: Paudal and BELGA.

Around 100 Lidl stores across Belgium closed their doors last week due to a staff strike over excessive workloads, with unions threatening further action in coming days if nothing changes. In addition, Belga News Agency reports that two of the five distribution centres were also affected. 

Unions have raised concerns that since 2018, new tasks in Lidl supermarkets have left staff exhausted and unable to cope.

The CGSLB union said:

“These are structural measures that we have been asking for since 2018. The evolution of the shops must go hand in hand with the improvement of the employees’ working conditions”.

The common trade union blames the strike on the failure of the conciliation meeting about the new collective agreement held on Monday. Confusingly, far from reaching an agreement, both sides disagree as to whether the meeting even took place.

Lidl spokeswoman Isabelle Colbrandt told local media on Wednesday morning:

“We regret that the trade union partners decided on Monday to call off the meeting. There was a constructive proposal on the table with numerous measures to improve the organisation for our colleagues in the shops. Unfortunately, the social partners chose to take action. Our customers, among others, are the victims of this.”

This statement has been disputed by unions. The CGSLB said on Wednesday afternoon:

“The meeting on Monday did take place (it was not cancelled as stated in the management’s press release). It was a conciliation meeting after which the social partners were unable to reach a solution.” 

The union is threatening to step up the strike in the next few days if management does not review its proposals.

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