Karstadt stores hit by mass strike

Thousands of employees at one of Germany's largest retail chains went on strike on Friday. Shoppers should expect disruptions and even closures, the workers' union behind the action said.

Karstadt stores hit by mass strike
Photo: DPA

By striking, staff at Karstadt are sending out a clear message “to their employers to think about providing their workforce with a stable future,” a spokeswoman from Verdi union, which organized the strikes, told The Local on Friday morning.

Branches in northern and western Germany will be affected, but the exact number of staff taking part was not clear, she said. Strikes will, in some places, run to Saturday.

Founded in 1881, the department store has suffered financial woe in recent years. It has been embroiled in a fight over wages for its 20,000 employees since November 2012.

Verdi has been pushing for a contract to give staff job security, and to get the company to commit to a set wage tariff. Nearly a year later, there has been little progression.

There will be discussions over the coming weeks, Verdi said in a statement put out on Friday morning.

Almost all branches in Berlin will be affected, with a gathering outside the store on the Kurfurstendamm shopping street.

Hamburg, Flensburg, Lübeck, Kiel, Duisburg, Essen, Bonn, Dortmund, Darmstadt, Bremen, Hannover are among the towns and cities affected.

READ MORE: Thousands of jobs to go at Karstadt and RWE

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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.