Most stores open despite retailer strikes
8 December 2005, BRUSSELS — Despite the 24-hour union-led strike, some 65 percent of department stores opened for business on Thursday, the federation of Belgian retailers, Fedis, said.
8 December 2005
BRUSSELS — Despite the 24-hour union-led strike, some 65 percent of department stores opened for business on Thursday, the federation of Belgian retailers, Fedis, said.
"There was a large number of people who wanted to work," Fedis director Baudouin Velge said.
Union federations ACV, ABVV and ACLVB staged a series of strikes on Thursday in continued protest against the federal government's 'generation pact'. The pact aims to raise the minimum early retirement age.
The strike primarily hit large retail stores such as Carrefour, Delhaize, Makro, Colruyt, Aldi, Lidl, Hema, Brico, H&M and Blokker.
"We are urging the shops to stay closed the entire day," the chairman of white-collar union BBTK-Setca, Erwin De Deyn, said.
A large number of women work part-time in the retail sector and it will be difficult for them to meet the stricter conditions laid out for early retirement in the generation pact.
Unions are urging the government to take into account part-time work and unemployment or sick leave in stipulating conditions for early retirement.
The government is also being urged to include physically demanding jobs in the retail sector in a series exemptions allowing early retirement.
But despite the union strikes, Fedis said an estimated 65 percent of stores were open on Thursday. Most problems were reported around Oostende and Genk.
The association of small businesses, Unizo, said strikes were not being reported at independent shops of supermarkets.
However, a spokesperson for union LBC, Chris Van Drogenbroeck, was pleased with the strike and stressed the aim was to initiate strikes in the large supermarkets.
Van Drogenbroeck said in Flanders and Brussels, almost 75 percent of Carrefour shops and half of the Super GB stores were closed. Half of Delhaize and 40 percent of Colruyt stores were closed. Most Aldi stores were also shut.
According to De Deyn from union BBTK, most supermarkets in Wallonia were closed on Thursday, estimating also that 80 percent in Brussels and 70 percent in Flanders were also closed.
Strikers' posts were found at most of the large food retail stores while temporary blockades were reported elsewhere, he said. Many large stores such as Brico were closed and Ikea in Wilrijk shut its doors for the day.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news