21 June 2007
BRUSSELS – Department store chain GB will be closing 16 locations and cutting 900 jobs. The unions are threatening to go on strike. Outraged personnel want to temporarily block the stores in protest.
Unions were taken completely by surprise by the news of the closures and job cuts.
Competition among supermarkets has gotten tougher than ever. Discount chains like Aldi and Lidl are putting major pressure on prices, Colruyt is constantly showing customers price comparisons, and Delhaize has chosen its own course as well. Carrefour is stuck somewhere in the middle and is having a particularly difficult time. A number of stores are operating at a loss.
GB attributes the problems in part to high wage costs. The unions fear that GB has a hidden agenda to transfer the employees to cheaper store formulas like GB Contact, a franchise, where wages are reportedly 25 percent lower than at the GB stores. The unions suspect that the stores will first be shut down and then reopened under different financial conditions.
[Copyright Expatica News 2007]
Subject: Belgian news