“We are at a turning point”: the strike in Mestdagh stores could last several days
The unions continued on Thursday morning blocking the depot of the Mestdagh group, located in Gosselies. On the spot, the union delegates repeated their desire to continue the action until Saturday “at least” if the group’s management does not return to the negotiating table by then.
The Mestdagh supermarket depot, located in Gosselies, has been blocked by union activists since yesterday evening, Wednesday. No truck can enter and leave the site. The stores will therefore not be supplied on Thursday and 45 of the chain’s 49 stores have not opened their doors. More than 2,000 employees are on strike.
This movement of discontent comes after fruitless discussions between the unions and management. Since the takeover of the Mestdagh supermarkets by the Intermarché brand, there has been concern among the staff that their stores will switch to a franchise system and that they will have to work for an independent franchisee who would impose poor working conditions. “It’s too much for the workers. Now, we just ask for a little respect and guarantees. I do not know who would commit today to the unknown without any concrete guarantee“, details Evelyne Zabus, permanent secretary at the CNE.
“We want guarantees that we will stay as we are“, advance strikers to our microphone.
The unions are also demanding that management offer alternatives to workers who no longer want to work with Intermarché.
The extraordinary works council which took place this Wednesday afternoon at the headquarters of the Mestdagh supermarket group, recently taken over by the French brand Intermarché, again ended in failure. Tired of the “sweet talk” of the management, the unions announced on Thursday a blockage in front of the deposit of the central headquarters of Mestdagh, in Gosselies. The strike could last until Saturday if no solution is found.
“No further meetings are scheduled with management.“, details our journalist.
“It’s getting tougher“, recognizes Marina, itinerant union delegate CNE. “We are at a turning point. We’ve been in meetings for a month with a dialogue of the deaf”. “All the stores answered the call“, she adds.
“We are sending workers into the unknown”
The recent takeover of the Mestdagh supermarket group by the French brand Intermarché has sparked strong social discontent due to the switch to a franchise model. In particular, the unions wish to have guarantees concerning the maintenance of the working conditions of the personnel transferred within the framework of the takeover of the Mestdagh group. “The more we advance, the fewer guarantees we have. We are sending workers into the unknown”. And when it is a question of drawing up a CCT linking the buyer, the employees and Mestdagh which guarantees the maintenance of the current working conditions, the unions receive a “not categorical”, deplores Myriam Delmée, from Setca.
In addition, the trade unions are demanding that management offer alternative solutions to workers who no longer want to work with Intermarché. Here again, “we are in a no man’s land”, regrets Mrs. Delmée. “We don’t know what sauce the employees are going to be eaten with”. For the trade unionist, “the management must agree to commit, but also to hire the member who will take over the staff”. Otherwise, “the strike movement will go crescendo”, she warns.
Management surprised and shocked
On the management side, incomprehension and astonishment predominate. “We are already at the 4th works council, and each time the management answers all the questions in a constructive way”, says Henry de Lophem, press officer at Intermarché. The latter explains that the management is open to the request for voluntary departures and that the maintenance of the guarantees of the rights of workers is concreted by the CCT 32 Bis.
In addition, the management says it is particularly “shocked” by the unions’ demand for a “restructuring plan”. “The Masks Fall”affirms Henry de Lophem, for whom the unions want to enter a phase of negotiation of the Renault Law, while “Since the announcement of the takeover of Mestdagh, the management has guaranteed that no dismissals and no closing of stores will take place”. Management sees in this request a desire to “to rot” the situation and prepare for future social elections. “Mesdtagh needs everyone on board”concluded the press officer.
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