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Netherlands – Union loses lawsuit against supermarket chain over temporary “overuse”

14 May 2012

A Dutch supermarket chain has come under fire by one of the Netherland’s largest trade union federations FNV in the past few weeks for allegedly breaking an agreement and for overusing the amount of temporary workers in distribution centres, but the union has now lost a court case against the firm on Friday.

A court in Northern Holland in Haarlem ruled last Friday that the company, Albert Heijn, had made no firm commitments to the union over reducing the amount of temporary workers it uses. Hence the court rejected the claim brought forward by FNV.

FNV claimed that the company is using around 40% to 50% of temporary workers in its distribution centres, breaking an alleged agreement which restricts the number of temporary staff to 23%. Hence the union federation filed a lawsuit against the firm as it demanded a “drastic” cut in the number of temporary employees.

FNV claimed that the firm hires 3,000 permanent employees at six distribution centres compared to 1,500 temporary workers although the company did not confirm this number. The company also denied that it had signed a “definitive” agreement over the use of temporary workers as there had only been “discussions” on this but no written settlement.

 A spokesperson of Albert Heijn said the firm is satisfied with the result of the court ruling and said the firm stayed prepared to continue talks with FNV.

FNV has not yet commented on the verdict.

It is not the first time that the union has brought allegations forward against Albert Heijn. Last year FNV already complained about the “increasing” number of temporary workers at the firm and said that full-time workers are continuously being replaced by “cheap” temporary staff. Back then the union said that Albert Heijn does not promote a “sustainable” future for its employees. 

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