D.he union Verdi calls on employees in the retail sector to walk out on Thursday in the wage dispute in North Rhine-Westphalia. The main focus of the warning strikes are city centers and furniture stores, the union announced on Thursday night. Verdi expects strike participants from Ikea, Primark, Saturn, H&M, TK-Maxx, Smyths Toys, Zara, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, Esprit and Douglas. A central strike rally is planned in Dortmund.
Verdi is demanding 4.5 percent more money and a minimum wage of 12.50 euros per hour for the roughly 700,000 retail employees in North Rhine-Westphalia. The union cites, among other things, the loss of income of employees during the Corona crisis. They kept the store running during the pandemic by repeatedly accepting the new requirements from Click & Collect and Click & Meet and implementing them, said Verdi negotiator Silke Zimmer. “That was associated with hard work, a high degree of flexibility and, last but not least, with a lot of personal contacts and the associated fear of possible infection. This commitment must now be reflected in a fair collective agreement! “
Employer: take different situations into account
The trade association NRW considers the demands to be excessive and offers significantly less – depending on how badly the company was affected, there should be different steps to increase. “It is irresponsible that the union is only concentrating on the companies that have come through the pandemic comparatively well, but completely ignoring the rest of the other companies that fear for their existence,” said NRW employer negotiator Christopher Ranft.
In the past, warning strikes in retail stores often had little impact on customers because only part of the workforce took part and the stores were still open.
Negotiations are to be continued next Tuesday. Retail has come through the pandemic in very different ways. While the business of supermarket chains such as Edeka and Rewe was booming, fashion retailers, department store operators and other stationary retailers had to accept heavy losses, also because their stores had to be temporarily closed.
According to Verdi, around 700,000 people are employed in retail in North Rhine-Westphalia alone. The two-year collective agreement concluded in 2019 brought an increase of initially three percent and later by 1.8 percent.