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Monday 20.11.2017 | Name days: Anda, Andīna

Maxima two months after tragedy: promises to workers and two new stores

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUTwo months have passed since the tragedy in Zolitude. Throughout these two months, Maxima announced multiple promises. For example, last month, one of the shareholders of Maxima promised to slow down Maxima’s development plans. However, Maxima is already searching for employees to work in two new recently opened stores.

Maxima employees have yet to feel the effect of the promises to improve work conditions, reports.

Two months have passed since the tragedy and Maxima has let go of the ‘brakes’ on future development plans. Maxima is ready once more to open new stores. Maxima actively seeks employees for its new Maxima supermarkets in Mežciems and Imanta.

The Maxima in Mežciems is a project of Homburg group – the same that developed Zolitude’s Maxima. When asked by Latvijas Radio, Maxima shareholder Igns Staškevičs explained the situation with the new stores: ‘We plan to open two new stores in the near future. Our plan was temporarily halted last year. The two new Maxima stores on Dammes and Biķernieku streets should have been opened at the end of 2013. But it was recommended by authorities to halt their opening shortly after the tragedy hit Zolitude. We are still not sure when they will be opened,’ – he said. Staškevičs added that it is first necessary to acquire all the necessary permits and be certain that the building is safe. When asked about Maxima’s internal situation, his answer is not straight. Employees say not much has changed since Zolitude. Safety is now a much more important matter. After the tragedy in Zolitude, Staškevičs mentioned it many times that Maxima will improve work conditions for its employees. His promise about better New Year’s meant slightly shorter work hours.

According to Maxima employees, the pay remains the same – minimal hourly rate. A bonus system is also present, but it is far too convoluted for employees to comprehend. According to them, overtime is basically a bonus. Unofficial data suggests salary is roughly LVL 200 after taxes.

Employees also say they often have to work more than five days in a row, 10 or 11 hours each. This is mostly due to the lack of employees. A former Maxima employee had this to say: ‘As I’ve said – they save money on their employees. One person often works as much as three. If they know Lithuanians are coming to visit and see how things go, they call in both shifts, so that everyone is present and working. Lithuanians come and see that the store is full of employees. They have no idea that some of these people have been working as much as three people, that they are not sleeping well and that they are gradually going insane from all this.’

Maxima’s shareholder promises – changes will come soon. He says: ‘First of all, we need to make our supermarkets more attractive to our customers. This means reducing checkout queues. This also means making our cashiers feel more comfortable at their work stations. This is not just about wages: this is also about the atmosphere and attitude. The wage matter is important, of course, and we will do all we can to regain our competitiveness on the market and make Maxima attractive once again.’

According to Staškevičs, the average wage increase will be small – about 7%. This will apply only to wages, not bonuses.

There will be other changes as well. ‘We will introduce new uniforms for our employees. Cashiers will have new and more comfortable chairs,’ – said Staškevičs.

Time will show how well Maxima deals with these changes. It is only known that the current uniforms of Maxima employees are over ten years old.


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