Minister of Employment Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS) is prepared to appoint a social mediator at Delhaize, after the department store chain announced earlier this week that it wants to privatize its stores. Should it come to franchising, the minister wants the management to make real promises about job security and about the wages and working conditions for the staff.
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On Tuesday, the management of Delhaize announced that it wants to privatize all 128 stores under its own management, good for 9,000 employees. During the question hour in the Chamber, Anja Vanrobaeys (Vooruit), Gaby Colebunders (PVDA), Chanelle Bonaventure (PS) and Nahima Lanjri (CD&V) expressed concern about the consequences of that news. “Anyone who claims that wages will be maintained is lying and cheating,” said Vanrobaeys. Lanjri called on the minister to appoint a social mediator in order to create clarity for the staff.
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Minister Dermagne accepted that suggestion. “I call on Delhaize’s management to really look at other options with the unions. But if the plans are confirmed after those talks, then I have asked the management to make a real promise about job security and about the collective agreement, ”which contains the wages and working conditions, said the PS deputy prime minister. “And not only after the transfer, but also afterwards.”
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“I was shocked by the announcement. I see a lot of cynicism,” emphasized Dermagne. “I wonder where we are going. Are we opting for a society with labor laws from the nineteenth century, including child labour? Are we opting for a downward spiral in which only the profit for the employer counts? Employees are not a commodity.”
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Dermagne, who is also Minister of the Economy, also promised to be vigilant that the privatization does not lead to new price increases in the shopping cart.
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