Sep 30, 2015
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Thousands protest in Germany over wage policy at Metro's Real stores

Sep 30, 2015

Several thousand employees of German hypermarket chain Real protested on Wednesday against a move by the struggling retailer to exit a collective wage bargaining agreement.

A spokesman for German trade union Verdi said about 4,000 employees took part in the rally outside the headquarters of parent group Metro, where a board meeting was taking place.

Metro group

A petition with about 25,000 signatures was handed over to a representative of Metro, while Verdi board member Stefanie Nutzenberger warned of further action and work stoppages if the company does not make concessions.

Real, which employs around 37,000 people in 300 stores, announced in June it wants to negotiate an in-house wage deal and stop adhering to the collective agreement for the retail sector, which it says means its costs are up to 30 percent higher than its competitors.

Verdi said Real wants to extend the working week and make holiday and Christmas bonuses dependent on the company's results.

A Metro spokesman urged Verdi on Tuesday to work with it to find constructive solutions for the difficult situation at Real.

"If we do not get a handle on this distortion of competition then the situation for Real and thus also for all its employees is very dangerous in the medium-term," the spokesman said.

Metro has long tried, and failed, to sell the Real business, which has suffered as shopping habits have shifted away from big out-of-town mega stores towards more frequent trips to local shops.

It is now investing in revamping stores, while closing others, with sales falling 2.2 percent to 5.9 billion euros ($6.61 billion) in the nine months to June 30.

$1 = 0.8924 euros

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