Dec 11, 2018
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Department store de Bijenkorf staff campaign for higher wages

Dec 11, 2018

Staff of the Dutch department store chain de Bijenkorf have launched a campaign for higher wages.

de Bijenkorf in Amsterdam - Photo: de Bijenkorf

On Tuesday, the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions’ Bijenkorf for staff members (FNV Bijenkorf) published a video on its Facebook page calling for action. Bijenkorf employees and FNV Bijenkorf jointly argue that the department store is doing well financially and that they would like to receive a wage increase of 3.5% per year as a result. At the moment, the maximum salary of a store employee is €1,750 per month, according to the video.

FNV de Bijenkorf director Linda Vermeulen told newspaper Het Algemeen Dagblad: “We are proud of our department store. We work hard, it goes very well with the [Dutch] economy and de Bijenkorf. So we also deserve a better salary.”

In addition to the video posted on Facebook, employees participating in the protest are wearing brooches with a bee on it, referencing the department store’s name, which translates as “beehive”.

According to Vermeulen, the bee brooches refer to the movie The Hunger Games, in which main character Katniss Everdeen carries a bird pin, symbolizing the character's fight against inequality. The protesters also refer to the brooch using the #beeUnited hashtag on social media.

In addition to a higher wage, the employees also protest for better working condition. Vermeulen added: “Employees want to have a say in the schedules, a good balance between work and private life, and a larger workforce.”

At the end of November, de Bijenkorf offered its employees a final bid for a new collective agreement, which did not include a wage increase. The department store chain linked a salary increase to an appraisal system, with wages increasing by 1.5% to 4.5%. FNV said that the system, whereby employees are reviewed with a score of 1 to 4, was controversial and argued for a higher salary for all staff, referring to the department store chain’s performance of the last financial year: the annual figures for 2017 show a 12% sales increase, compared to 2016.

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