SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Workers at discount clothes and general goods store group Wibra have been told they must make up for hours missed during the coronavirus crisis, and trade union FNV is taking the company to court to fight the plan.
The union says that the hours were paid for by the government via its NOW scheme to support companies hit by the lockdown by partially meeting their wages bill. It is demanding that Wibra cancels out all hours it says it is ‘owed’ (because they were paid for but not worked).
Wibra, however, says in most cases shop workers lost no more than 10% of their contracted hours and that it is allowed in its retail pay and conditions agreement to ask staff to make up 35%.
The fact that workers were paid the missing hours via the NOW scheme is a separate issue, Wibra’s lawyers say.
One Wibra worker from Limburg told broadcaster NOS she has a contract for 20 hours a week but only worked 13 during the lockdown. Jolanda Vullings has been paid for the full 20 hours thanks to the NOW top-up but now faces picking up the 130 hours she did not work during the summer.
Not only is this unfair, but it will saddle her with extra costs for childcare because she is being told to work more during the summer holidays, Vullings said. Judges will hear the case today and give their verdict in two weeks.