On July 30, Thursday, hundreds of workers marched in Berlin, Germany, protesting the announcement of closure of the Karstadt Sports shop branch in the city. Workers are opposing plans announced by the management of German department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof (GKK) to lay off hundreds of employees across its various store branches in the country. Along with the workers of Karstadt Sports, trade union activists from Verdi participated in the march on Thursday.
According to reports, the GKK management has decided to close 50 branches of its department store chain by the end of the year. Such a move will lead to around 5,000 employees losing their jobs and is likely to affect thousands of other jobs in logistics, sports, travel and food, including subcontractors such as sanitation staff and those working in other maintenance services.
As per Klasse Gegen Klasse, the investor and owner of GKK, René Benko, who has an estimated net worth of almost 5 billion euros, pushed the department stores chain to the brink through targeted mismanagement in order to preserve the most profitable parts of the business.
Prior to the march on Thursday, Verdi stated that the aim of the protest is to preserve as many jobs as possible and to finance a transfer for employees affected by dismissal. As per Verdi, since the employer has blocked any progress in the negotiations so far, protesters were scheduled to march to the building of the owner’s group, Signa, in Berlin, in order to address Benko directly.
Die Linke (The Left) has expressed solidarity with workers of GKK and joined the workers’ march on Thursday.