The logistical problems at Carrefour Belgium continue, even though the strike at Kuehne+Nagel's distribution centre in Nivelles has been ended a week ago. The unions are afraid the problem is structural, and point to the trucker shortage.
Several Carrefour Market stores still have empty shelves, especially for products like wine, biscuits and toilet paper. An anonymous shopkeeper tells Belgian newspaper De Standaard that "deliveries to our store are an absolute mess". He describes a large order made last week, of which only a third was actually delivered. "If things continue like this, I fear for the holidays."
There is no denial from Carrefour Belgium's side: CEO François-Melchior de Polignac even took to Facebook to apologise. "We are doing all we can to be able to present a full product range again", he added. Spokesperson Aurélie Gerth says the chain depends on logistics partner Kuehne+Nagel, which manages the distribution centres. “We can give no guarantees on when this problem will be solved.” The question remains where the problem exactly lies, as the strike at the distribution centre in Nivelles has ended a week ago.
The unions at Kuehne+Nagel's distribution centre at Kontich (near Antwerp), which took a lot of the brunt during the Nivelles strike, say the problem is not as much the depot itself - but rather a shortage of truckers. "We have enough capacity here to prepare the deliveries and to make them ready for transport. The thing that is lacking, is trucks that come to load the deliveries from the loading docks: they are filled to the brim with pallets waiting to be taken away", Wannes Gielis from christian trade union ACV Puls explained.
Tom Peeters, secretary-general of truckers union BTB, agrees fully that Belgium is another country to face a trucker shortage: "Not enough young people start a career in trucking, while many older truckers retire. Moreover, chains like Carrefour try to keep prices (and therefore, wages) low, adding to the unattractiveness of the job."