© Belga

A 1.6-million-euro package announced on Friday by the European Commission to help 400 workers dismissed by Carrefour hypermarkets in Wallonia to find new jobs is positive for the workers concerned, but comes a bit late and, in the final analysis, is just a “band aid”, trade union federations told Belga news agency on Friday.

The package came in response to a request from Wallonia Region, which had asked the Commission for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) after the distribution chain laid off 1,019 employees last year.

“It’s positive because it will allow FOREM [the regional employment and training service – Editor’s note] to continue supporting and accompanying the dismissed workers through the reconversion cell, but it comes a bit too late since the first dismissals occurred in November last,” said Delphine Latawiec of the CNE (Employees National Group). However, she stressed that the reconversion cells established in Wallonia were a “formidable tool”, permitting “individual as well as collective” support for dismissed persons and real accompaniment towards a new job or professional project.

Speaking on behalf of the Union of Employees, Executives and Technicians, SETCA, Myriam Delmée commented that the money released by the European Commission was just “band aid on a peg leg”. “It’s positive for the workers concerned, but it’s curative,” she said. “I would have preferred these persons not to be dismissed.”

As the commerce sector faces major changes, such as robotisation and e-commerce, and new restructurings are liable to be announced sooner or later, SETCA is calling for real reflection on the future of the sector, its challenges and how to avoid heavy job losses. “At the last sectoral negotiations, we had asked for a national conference on commerce, which concerns all the same 600,000 workers in our country, but the COMEOS has stayed away from the discussion,” Ms. Delmée added, in a reference to the organisation representing the sector’s employers.

“When will the sector be able to have a calm and constructive dialogue on the future of commerce?” she wondered.

Oscar Schneider

The Brussels Times

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