Ahold faces distribution centre strikes

By Anita Awbi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Albert heijn Royal ahold

Dutch supermarket Royal Ahold is today facing strikes across its
domestic Albert Heijn distribution and supply centres as workers
dispute pay and contracts.

The FNV Bondgenoten and CNV labour unions have issued demands for a two per cent pay rise and an end to the oversubscription of temporary "flexi" workers with reduced employee rights.

Ahold has until midnight on 13 July to meet the conditions or face a major walkout starting 17 July, which unions say could bring a complete halt to deliveries at Ahold's Albert Heign supermarkets across the Netherlands.

An estimated 4,000 workers could strike to disrupt sales at the chain, which currently accounts for 22 per cent of Ahold's total global revenue.

Meanwhile beleaguered Ahold is struggling to get back on track following more than 12 consecutive months of declining sales and the 2001 US accounting scandal which saddled the firm with billions of dollars worth of debt to shareholders.

Last month the retailer posted a 31.5 per cent rise in first-quarter operating income to €455m (£312m), indicating a change in fortunes. It cited higher sales and reduced financial costs as key growth drivers.

The firm's net sales were €14.1bn, an increase of 8.6 per cent compared with last year's first quarter, bringing hope to the firm that earlier this year abandoned its financial targets.

The Albert Heijn fascia saw net sales rise 4.8 per cent to €2.1bn "due to a more selective approach to promotional activity and operational efficiency actions."

But the efficiency drive at its distribution centres, which have seen an influx of temporary staff and stagnant wages, may not pay off if workers choose to strike.

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