Supermarket chain Delhaize again sent bailiffs on Saturday to a dozen branches, which threatened to remain closed on Saturday. In Ghent, six union members were arrested in an action at the Delhaize department store on the Watersportbaan.
The supermarket chain again sent bailiffs to a dozen branches on Saturday, which threatened to remain closed. ‘We deployed bailiffs on a large scale because a dozen shops threatened to keep their doors closed. The local police were also deployed in some places,’ says spokesman Roel Dekelver. As a result, most Delhaize stores opened as usual on Saturday morning, some with a delay.
At the branch on the Watersportbaan in Ghent, six union members were briefly arrested. In the early hours, the unions made access to the supermarket difficult with shopping carts, after which a bailiff called in the police. They have come to the scene with an extensive police force to safeguard access for customers.
During that performance, the union members were taken to the commissariat because they did not want to show their identity cards to the police. They were released a few hours later, after which they rejoined the action.
‘The umpteenth incident’
‘Our people have been administratively arrested,’ says Wouter Parmentier of LBC-NVK. ‘I’m quite displeased. A bailiff has arrived here and a serious police force. What bothers me is that Delhaize’s commercial interest is equated with public order. That’s not right in my opinion. People can shop elsewhere and get their food and drink.’
‘The incident is the umpteenth in a row,’ says Kristof Vergauwen of BBTK. “It shows that we are fighting an unequal battle. While the actual goal is to sit at the negotiating table and discuss it.’
The social dialogue at Delhaize has been stuck since the announcement of the intention to privatize the 128 own stores at the beginning of March. When the shops are taken over by independent operators, the management guarantees the retention of wages and working conditions for the 9,000 employees involved, but the unions question this. On Tuesday, May 2 at 1 p.m., management and trade unions will meet again to discuss the plans, this time without a social mediator.