Hundreds of employees of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof department store chain protested against the closure of their branches across North Rhine-Westphalia, according to the union.
In Düsseldorf, thanks to the support of the well-known carnival wagon maker Jacques Tilly, they were able to vent their displeasure in a particularly striking way: Employees used boxing gloves to hit a larger than life cardboard figure that the company owner René Benko represented until the sculpture fell apart.
Parts of the workforce wore black T-shirts or mourning stickers and symbolically carried the store to their grave. By the end of the month, around 35 Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt branches are to close nationwide. According to the Verdi union, Saturday was the last day for most of them. In Bonn and Essen the lights went out earlier after the shelves had been bought empty. Six more closings are to follow in January.
Video: Verdi warning strikes in the public service in the Recklinghausen district (glomex)
Especially for small towns, including Gummersbach, Neumünster and Witten, the branch closings are a major setback in the battle for public traffic in their inner cities. With around 130 department stores remaining, the ailing group hopes to quickly return to the black.
The Verdi union accused the management of mismanagement. “Many are not only infinitely sad about their job loss, they also feel justified anger at the current management,” said Union Secretary Miriam Juergens. According to Verdi, around 2500 employees are losing their jobs nationwide.