Friday 14 August 2020

Catering firms likely to shed a quarter of staff as coronavirus measures bite

Close-up shot of a chef preparing a hamburger

Home working and the cancellation of big summer events has hit the sector hard. Photo: depositphotos

Up to a quarter of staff at contracted catering companies could lose their jobs now that more people are working from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, trade union FNV fears.

Sodexo, the French-owned company that runs canteens in offices, universities and hospitals, announced two weeks ago that it was laying off 800 of its 3,000 staff in the Netherlands. Other companies say they have experienced a similar downturn in business since March.

The largest Dutch catering personnel company, Mise-en-Place, which had a temporary workforce of 9,500 students, filed for bankruptcy in April, while Brabant-based Maison van den Boer had to let nearly half its 300 permanent staff go after creditors started winding-up proceedings.

A court gave Maison van den Boer, which specialises in the kind of large outdoor events that have been cancelled until mid-August, six weeks at the start of June to come to an agreement that will allow it to keep trading.

Peter Derix, owner of Amsterdam-based PDX Services that caters for workplaces including the Hilversum Mediapark, told RTL Nieuws: ‘Up until March 16 we had a staff shortage. Now we’ve had to let people on temporary contracts go. We did it with a heavy heart, because all our people mean a lot to us.’

The FNV said it expected job losses in the sector to continue. ‘In the long term it will definitely cost between 4,000 and 5,000 staff their positions,’ said Johan Bijlsma of the union’s catering branch. He called for the government to provide more support to catering businesses to compensate for the effects of home working.

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