Employees of grocery store chain Albert Heijn have been busy restocking all supermarkets, now that the strikes at distribution centers have been temporarily suspended. “We are working hard to restock the stores with all colleagues, which will take a few days. The impact of the strikes differs per region and per store,” said a spokesperson for the supermarket chain on Thursday.
It was announced in the early morning hours on Thursday that Albert Heijn and both the CNV and FNV labor unions will soon meet again to restart talks about a new collective labor agreement for distribution employees. The new round of talks, which according to the unions is taking place at the initiative of the supermarket group, was sufficient reason for CNV and FNV to temporarily suspend the strikes.
“We are pleased that the talks have resumed. The conversation will take place on Monday. I can’t say more about it now,” said Albert Heijn’s spokesperson.
Albert Heijn wrote in the invitation that it is prepared to pay a 10 percent wage increase and to remove proposals from the table that would damage working conditions, especially for new employees, according to CNV. “That is sufficient reason for us to call on people to go back to work on Thursday morning,” said director Roel van Riezen soon after. “Thanks to the pressure from all those on strike, Albert Heijn was finally willing to comply with our demands to come back to the table.” He added that he expects that an agreement will be reached on the other points concerned.
Shefania Sewbaks, director at the FNV, also expects to come a deal to be reached with Albert Heijn. “But this does not mean that we will never go on strike again for this collective labor agreement process. It really depends on how it goes, what is on the table and how far we get. These are negotiations; you can never say things with certainty.”
The impact of the strikes at the distribution centers, which started last Sunday, became increasingly visible in supermarkets. The fruit and vegetable shelves and the bread racks were often much emptier than usual. Albert Heijn customers were also increasingly having difficulty obtaining products with a longer shelf life.
The amount of fresh produce that had to be thrown away as a result of the strikes was minimal, according to the Albert Heijn spokesperson. This is due to changes in logistics, as a result of which products still ended up at supermarkets, she said.
Reporting by ANP
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