Thursday 19 September 2019

When is an online food retailer not a supermarket? Picnic and FNV fight it out

Photo: Picnic

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees is being urged to intervene in the dispute between the FNV trade union federation and Picnic, an online supermarket.

The FNV said on Thursday it would take Picnic to court for refusing to pay staff according to the nationwide supermarket pay and conditions agreement (cao). It says this means workers are paid €2 a hour less than they should be – a move which has saved Picnic almost €10m.

‘Picnic is refusing to pay workers their dues,’ the union said in a statement. ‘The bill for Picnic’s “free delivery” service is being paid by the workforce. In addition, this is unfair competition toward other supermarkets.’

Picnic, however, says it is a webshop and that its distribution centres are not supermarkets. In addition, classifying the company as a supermarket would have an ‘unjust’ impact on different types of workers, Picnic says.

Founder Michiel Muller told RTLZ last week that the company is not opposed to a formal pay deal but said that it ‘should fit into our rhythm’.

‘The supermarket pay deal is an old concept which dates from 1970 and does not fit us,’ he said. ‘We are 100% open to a sector deal which covers e-commerce.’

VVD parliamentarian Dennis Wiersma has now called on the minister to intervene. A long legal procedure is in no-one’s interest, Wiersma says in Monday’s Financieele Dagblad.

‘It is time for time out,’ Wiersma said. ‘Koolmees should get around the table with the two sides and encourage them to come to an agreement which meets everyone’s needs.’

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