Workers at one of France’s major supermarket chains will go on strike from tomorrow (December 5) over fears of job losses in the coming months.
All five major unions representing workers at Casino stores back the action, with a strike motion being filed last week covering all dates between December 5 and 31.
The strike notice says workers are “worried” about the troubled supermarket’s future, and they fear significant job losses will follow a restructuring of the company’s ownership.
The group that owns Casino – as well as other supermarkets in France including Franprix and Monoprix – will see new shareholders largely take control by the end of March 2024, after successful debt restructuring negotiations.
One fear in particular is that the new owners will seek to sell additional super- and hyper-markets to those already being sold to rival Intermarché, which struck a deal earlier this year to take ownership of over 100 stores.
‘Lack of consideration’ for employees
The unions cite a “lack of consideration” for employees in the restructuring plan, claiming that little thought has been given to the security of workers.
Around 200,000 people worldwide work for the group – 50,000 of which are in France, spread across the Franprix, Monoprix, and Casino supermarkets. Many others work in the supermarkets’ global supply chains, or in stores located in Brazil.
The unions add there is a “worrying situation regarding the future of Casino's integrity,” related to the change of shareholders.
A consortium including Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, Frenchman Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and British fund Attestor is set to take effective control of the company by the end of March 2024.
The precise intentions of the soon-to-be new managing shareholders has not been made clear, but employees are concerned over the potential for job losses that could impact almost anyone.
This is because some believe a ‘fire-sale’ of the group’s commercial spaces – including supermarkets, hypermarkets, and mini-markets in city centres – could be initiated, with sales not limited to other supermarket chains but to any commercial group.
Intermarché will buy 119 stores from the group over the next three years, however these were only ‘Casino’ branded stores, not Monoprix or Franprix stores which are generally located within urban areas.
Unions were critical of this arrangement calling it “carnage” which sacrificed workers’ rights and left “thousands of workers in disarray.”
Major protests planned
The inter-union group announced two major demonstrations on Tuesday to protest against the group.
The first will take place at the headquarters of the Casino group in Saint-Etienne, whilst another will be held outside the headquarters of Monoprix, located at Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne)
It is unclear how the strike will affect customers at local stores throughout December.