The drama about the break-up of the Real hypermarket chain continues in the new year. While Kaufland will start taking over 13 of the 92 Real locations and their around 12,000 employees from SCP as early as February after approval by the cartel office and converting the stores, the future of around 100 Real locations and the employees there is still unclear .
Because the decision of the competition watchdog to buy 72 branches by Edeka is still pending in January. Globus could potentially take over 24 markets. However, the medium-sized retailer has not yet clearly announced whether it will actually buy this number. This would be a total of 188 stores that could be taken over by other retail chains. However, double entries can be assumed, as some locations are on the wish list of several dealers.
If one deducts the closure of 15 branches from the original 279 Real stores and the 188 potential takeover stores – assuming that all buyers actually take over this number – there are still 76 stores left. As the “Lebensmittelzeitung” reported on Friday, the owner SCP is only talking about the sale of up to 150 stores in 2021 to other retailers. Accordingly, the future of up to 100 locations is still at stake.
Thousands of Real employees are afraid of the future
“There are still several thousand Real employees in the uncertain how things will go on for them. They are afraid of the future, ”criticizes Stefanie Benefitberger, member of the federal board and head of the trade department at the Verdi union. The future of Real employees has become silent in the public discourse in recent months, instead it was often about the deal with Kaufland.
“So far, there has been no positioning of further prospective buyers to protect the employees,” criticized Nutzberger. While Kaufland assured in September before the approval of the Cartel Office that, if possible, all around 12,000 affected employees would be taken over without interruption and paid again according to the Verdi collective wage agreements, Globus and Edeka have not yet provided any information about the future of Real- Employees.
The Edeka group, for example, is characterized by medium-sized and cooperative structures, so the individual markets are not all controlled via a central office, but rather via their own regional companies and independent franchisees. For those Real employees who should be taken on with a purchase, it is still completely open whether they end up with self-employed merchants. With these, the working conditions are usually worse, according to Vorteilberger, as there are often no collective bargaining agreements and works councils. In addition, self-employed merchants create competitive advantages over those who adhere to collective agreements.
“Wage dumping” under the Metro management
Under the management of Metro AG, Real’s employees were no longer paid according to Verdi collective agreements, instead they earned up to 25 percent less through “wage dumping”, as Verdi calls it, through a contract with the DHV association. Several courts have denied that the DHV is eligible for tariffs. At Kaufland, there are works councils at many locations in which Real’s employee representatives are to be incorporated and Verdi collective agreements will apply again after the takeover. For Real employees with old contracts, the takeover means a salary increase of around five percent. The trade unionist welcomes these working conditions, saying that they are two essential prerequisites for ensuring a better future for employees.
“After Metro boss Olaf Koch had been pursuing capital interests at the expense of the employees for years and the sale to the SCP-Group / X-bricks apparently only served to break up, Kaufland is the first buyer to take the interests of the Real workforce seriously,” said Benefitberger after the talks with the subsidiary of the Schwarz Group in September.
The member of the Verdi federal executive board sees the blame in the management of Metro and Real above all: Those responsible at Metro and real would have missed, according to BENEBERBERGER, to adapt the business model for the future. “And the same people then pack their suitcases and leave the pile of broken glass for which they are responsible. That is what is really dramatic about the sale and the break-up, thousands of employees must now be afraid of unemployment, “she says. In addition, the company failed to listen to the employees on the site when it came to the company’s future orientation, according to Benefitberger.
Benefitberger: “The cartel office does not keep an eye on the people”
The Verdi federal board member also sees the reviews of the Federal Cartel Office as critical: “The cartel proceedings only focus on the market, not the people.” It is in. That the sale of Metro to the investor SCP led to a break-up, without minimum requirements to protect the employees Benefitberger’s eyes are an example that the antitrust procedure must be changed. “These decisions must also be about interests of the employees go, ”she says.
The trade unionist now wants to put the issue back on the public agenda. On January 22nd, the decision of the Federal Cartel Office on the takeover of Edeka is imminent. Then it will be exciting to see how the affected employees will continue. “We now have to continue to focus on people who do not yet know what is going to happen to them,” says Benefitberger. It is now a matter of getting binding commitments from the other potential buyers. The employees would need protection through collective agreements and security through works councils in order to counteract any arbitrariness on the part of employers.
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