With automatic funds against the store closing law (new-deutschland.de)

The French supermarket opened without staff.

The French supermarket opened without staff.

Photo: dpa / Oliver Berg

The retail chains outnumber themselves with ingenuity when it comes to the saving of personnel and costs and profit maximization. A provisional record was set last Sunday in a large supermarket in Angers, France, which had opened completely without sales staff. It was billed to self-service checkouts, where the customer himself scans his purchases and paid by bank card. Such machines are becoming more numerous in supermarkets.

At the end of August, the Groupe Casino Guichard-Perrachon supermarket had already opened on a Sunday without cashiers, but with three external consultants. These were ready to help if a customer could not handle the self-service checkout.

Casino wanted to deal with this measure a law that requires for the food trade on Sunday after 13 clock "quiet operation". The counselors did not belong to their own staff and thus were not affected by the law, argued the supermarket chain, as well as the three men of a security service, which are on Sundays as weekdays at the entrance and exit.

The unions in the supermarket feared for their jobs responded to his time with a protest action in front of the shop. Some angry demonstrators even invaded there. In addition, the unions have sued the supermarket chain for violating the law on Sunday's rest, which is already relatively relative. The judges agreed with them and judged that external consultants should also be counted among sales personnel and that their work was therefore in breach of the law.

But the casino management did not direct, but insisted on their project. That's why on Sunday afternoon the supermarket was left without staff – except for the three security men at the door. Apparently even the risk was taken into account that some customers forget to scan one or the other article. The saving effect on personnel is certainly far greater than these relatively minor losses. The casino supermarket in Angers alone has 115 employees, about half of whom are cashiers. Nationwide, the chain has 80 such shops. Taking all the supermarkets of the different retail chains in France together, the number of cashiers adds up to about 100,000.

The concerns of workers in trade and their unions that many of them will lose their jobs through automation, try to dissipate the corporations, however. Most customers, and especially the elderly, did not want to sacrifice the presence of sales personnel and their help and advice, they argue. On the other hand, especially younger customers are interested in automation or buying via the Internet with subsequent delivery home.

In this context, the supermarket chains of the government have offered a barter deal: They would reduce the automation associated with dismissals, if the laws are relaxed and the sales facilities are allowed to stay open in the evening and even on Sunday afternoon.

Of the 100,000 mostly female cashiers in the country today, 30,000 are accounted for by the leading Carrefour chain, which is the second largest retailer in the world after the US brand Walmart. Last year closed Carrefour with a profit of 1.4 billion euros. How "cost-conscious" the management is is shown by the current restructuring, which was allegedly made necessary by changing buying habits.

By the end of the year, 273 brand-name stores nationwide with a total of 2,100 employees are to be abandoned. So far, only 46 of these sales outlets have found buyers who take over the workforce. The overwhelming majority, who will be released into unemployment, have been promised severance pay of only 1500 to 2000 euros. Against this request, the unions have already announced protests and filed a lawsuit with the Labor Court.

. (TagsToTranslate) Retail (t) France (t) store opening times (t) Shop Hours Act (t) supermarket

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