At the council of our chain in Coop Norway, they decided to extend the opening hours of the Coop’s Extra discount chain on Saturdays – from 9 pm to 11 pm.
Trade union representatives in some cooperatives react strongly to the clause on working hours on Saturdays.
– I understand that the competition in the grocery business is fierce, but employees with working hours will be pushed to 23 on Saturday as well, I don’t understand. There should be a real and profitable need to stay open after 21 Saturday, and not just compete with competitors, Anne Svendsvall, chief store hostess at Coop Sør-Vest, wrote in an email to Nettavisen.
Many Extra stores in the Tønsberg area are open until 9pm or 10pm on Saturdays.
Svendsvoll reports that employees’ reactions were disappointing when they learned of the expansion at a media meeting in March. Furthermore, she reports, it is associated with increased workload after 9pm.
We have this burden regardless of whether the law allows it to remain open. The union and offices in central negotiations last year managed to significantly increase the weekend extension on Saturdays after 6 pm, to frame Sunday, the common holiday. Unfortunately, there is still an extension of working and working hours, so the supplement wasn’t expensive enough, says Svendsvoll.
At Coop Sør-Vest, employees are concerned about the way the decision to extend working hours is being made. Svendsvoll claims that store hosts on its collaborative team themselves had to ask to discuss the issue, before meeting with management.
Hong Kong news, who first mentioned the case, wrote that the meeting should have ended with a disagreement, with the store hosts also claiming that the employer had violated the duty to discuss, and thus also the main agreement.
To Nettavisen, Svendsvoll justifies the breach as follows:
Discussions should take place before a decision is made, according to the main agreement. It states, “If the company’s management does not find it possible to take into account the allegations of the store agents, it must prove its point.”
In Section 4.5.2 the discussions in The main agreement LO-Virke, to which it refers, states, among other things, that:
«The management of the company should discuss as soon as possible with the store managers (work committee):
Staffing issues, including expansion plans and restrictions. Merger, dismissal, complete or partial closure or legal reorganization of the business. Store agents must be informed of the cause and the legal, financial and employment consequences that they are supposed to have on the employees. The company’s management should ensure a meeting between the agents of the store and the new owners regarding the transfer and whether the collective agreement will continue to be applied.”
Further, the department states that such discussions should be held as soon as possible and at least once per month if there is no agreement on anything else, and also when required by the store supervisors.
Night work necessary?
To HK-nytt, Svendsvoll asks if the expansion can be described as a necessary night work. In the work environment law Night work is defined as work between the hours of 21:00 and 06:00 in the morning, and is permitted only if the nature of the work makes it necessary.
However, the Norwegian Labor Inspectorate writes that “the starting point for assessment is whether night work is necessary for reasons of production or to meet the needs of society or the general public.”
Nina Hammer Tess, chief store host at Coop Gjesdal, tells HK-Nytt that she understands Extra will extend business hours in Ålgård.
With us, competition is fierce, so unfortunately it was necessary, an analysis of shopping habits showed. But the longest hours will be offered in all stores in the country, and I think it’s hair-raising. Especially with so many Extra stores located almost by themselves, without competition. It’s not going to be profitable, and it’s a burden on employees, Tess says.
It will secure jobs
Harald Christiansen, director of communications at Coop Norge, says the reason Extra is recommending co-ops to extend working hours to 23,000 is because of competition.
– Our competitors are open until 11pm on Saturday for an extended period. It was clearly a desire from customers when two of our competitors opened very late, Christiansen says.
“We must extend our hours to be competitive and retain customers, and thus secure today’s jobs as well,” he points out.
Christiansen says grocery customers aren’t particularly loyal. Coop believes they risk that customers who want to shop late on a Saturday night will also continue to shop at Extra’s competitors if Extra doesn’t follow the competitors’ business hours.
“We clearly see that where we’ve tracked competitors during business hours, we’ve increased customer traffic,” he says.
Today, about 200 additional stores have extended their hours on Saturdays. Many of these had extended their hours before becoming part of the chain concept, in order to compete with other grocery chains.
We like to keep the old hours, but the competition for customers is so fierce in our industry, that to ensure our turnover and the jobs of the day, we must adapt to the new time.
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The grip is believed to provide flexibility
Grocery expert and NHH professor Øystein Foros is unsure of the sales impact of extended working hours on Coop’s side.
– They probably don’t get much turnover from extending their hours from 21 to 23, but when Extra stores compete directly with Rema or Kiwi stores, it will be important to match them during business hours, Foros tells Nettavisen.
Rima and Kiwi are already open until 11pm on Saturday.
– People don’t think much, but if you know that Rimma is “always” open, then you go there, he says.
Therefore, Foros believes it is appropriate for Coop to extend the opening hours of Extra stores as there is competition nearby.
Competition is what “forces” them. They will not allow competitors to win during business hours. Although I think it would have been more profitable if everyone had closed at 21 instead of 23, says Foros.
NHH professor Tor Wallin Andreassen, like his colleague Foros, thinks it’s smart for Coop to have the same hours as competitors.
– Naturally she matches Kiwi and Rima. If not, Extra makes it more difficult on itself, he tells Nettavisen.
He points out that extended working hours can be positive for some customer groups.
– Increases the resilience of, for example, families with children who are often under pressure for time. When they can do their shopping in the evening, it provides great comfort in everyday life, he says.
At the same time, the NHH professor believes it is important to have a good process with the union.
They need to understand that it is beneficial to the employer, but at the same time it is important to find solutions that make it livable for employees – especially those with children, he says.
Andreassen also points out that there is technology today that makes it possible to remain open around the clock – without employees. It already exists Many uninhabited Extra Stores, something Nettavisen wrote about before.
Even the collaborating teams
The new working hours have been approved as chain requirements by the Chain Board, which is made up of managing directors from the 11 largest cooperatives. Christiansen notes, however, that it is possible to apply for a local exemption.
It is up to the cooperatives whether or not it makes sense to extend the working hours where you run a store. But those who don’t want it should apply for the exemption, he says.
What does it take for collaborative teams to receive the exemption, if they don’t want to extend their working hours?
– There is no local basis for extending opening hours for reasons of competition, or the store is not feasible, for example, being located in a centre.
Extending working hours costs money, so we don’t do it if we don’t think there is a basis for it, Christiansen points out.
Christiansen denies that Coop did not follow the “rules of the game”.
Collaborative teams own the stores and take responsibility for the people. Therefore, it is the management of each individual co-op that will hold discussion meetings with the store managers. He says they must have done the same in this case.
Christiansen says he cannot answer what has been done and what has not been done in each individual cooperative, for example Surfest.
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