Belgian ALDI-workers victory against work on Sundays!
On February 4th, the management of ALDI Belgium launched a plan that was threatening seriously their employees’ right not to work on Sundays. The discount supermarket chain wanted to open its branches, located at the Belgian coast (from De Panne to Knokke ) on Sundays and on public holidays, during the tourist season and school holidays.
In order to convince the workers to accept the plan, Aldi claimed workers would be offered the choice whether to work on these days or not. Aldi also said employees would be paid extra for working on Sundays.
The trade unions promptly replied by organizing a survey amongst the workers. When asked whether they were willing to work on Sunday, 99 percent of the workers in the coastal shops said NO. A very clear result. This way the unions knew they should not negotiate on the issue.
Just one year earlier, shop opening hours had already been extended. Thus strongly increasing the work load for all ALDI-workers. At the time there were negotiations, and a final version of the plan was accepted by the workers. Now, not more than a year later, the management wanted to extend the shop opening hours once again. Once again they stressed this was “necessary” because of economic pressure.
This time, the ALDI workers refused to accept the proposal. There is no need for ALDI to extend once again its shop opening hours. You have to know ALDI was able to increase its market share by nearly 1 percent. Furthermore, ALDI’s daily profit in the area amounts to over 28.000 euros.
It’s clear why the unions refused to start any collective bargaining on the issue. The workers went on strike on February 26th. More than 200 workers gathered in front of the distribution center in Roeselare (province of West-Vlaanderen). They were very determined to maintain their action until the proposal on Sunday openings would be withdrawn by the ALDI management.
In the end, the workers managed to obtain what they had aimed for. On February 27th, the management invited the unions to start talking. They finally withdrew their propos