In January came the news that Elkjøp downsizes and closes stores to save money. Around 200 employees are affected by the process, the electronics chain confirms. One of them is Ellen Hoenvoll (42). After 23 years in the company, she received a dismissal.
Leader Fawsi Adem Trade and Office (HK) region East calls the dismissal “unfair” and “terrible”.
– It is bordering on scandal. Ellen has worked there for 23 years and helped build up Elkjøp, says Adem to HK-Nytt.
He adds that seniority – that the last employee loses his job first – is strongly emphasized in collective agreements and legal practice. Only 13 Elkjøp stores have a collective agreement, but not at Elkjøp Jessheim where Hoenvoll had a full-time position.
– If Ellen had taken the case to court, she would have had a strong case, says Adem.
Elkjøp’s HR manager Jan Erik Aaserød has been presented with Adem’s allegations, but does not comment on them. He claims that in the process the chain has taken employees’ seniority, competence and social conditions as a starting point. Read the interview with the HR manager further down in the article.
HK: Elkjøp gets rid of “expensive” employees
The manager in HK region East is critical of how the chain has cut expenses. Personnel costs are to be adjusted down by 12 per cent, according to Elkjøp.
– Elkjøp still needs labour, but wants to get rid of “expensive” employees who have worked there for a long time and who work 100 percent positions such as Ellen at Jessheim, says Adem.
On 10 March 2023, there were 46 vacancies in Elkjøp on nav.no.
– The number of advertised positions shows that the need for labor is the same in Elkjøp, but they only distribute the tasks over more part-time employees, says Adem.
Aaserød responds to the criticism. He claims that Elkjøp must ensure that they have enough employees with the right skills at work in line with customer traffic. Read more of Aaserød’s answers further down.
[ Trine dro hjem til Norge da hun fikk kreft. Så oppdaget hun tabben hun hadde gjort ]
A hair-raising process
Elkjøp offers employees NOK 3,000 in “loyalty bonus” if they sign a resignation agreement, according to e24.no. Fawsi Adem calls the practice “ridiculous” and “extremely unprofessional”.
– It is hair-raising that a company can offer such inferior agreements. I didn’t think it was normal in this century, he says to HK-Nytt.
Adem also believes that the management of Elkjøp Norge should “tighten up” the local warehouse managers.
– To a far too great extent, the little kings at the warehouses step on the toes of the employees. Centrally, Elkjøp is responsible for ensuring that the shop managers act in line with an organized working life.
He claims that the downsizing has not been carried out correctly at several warehouses.
It is too early to know whether Elkjøp employees will sue their employer for unfair dismissal. But if they do, Adem predicts that the electronics chain will lose several of the lawsuits. There are currently 14 people who have contested their dismissal, according to HK.
Fawsi Adem believes Elkjøp will have difficulties recruiting in the future.
– If you are a company that treats people in this way, they will not attract the best salespeople, says Adem.
About 580 of a total of 3,000 employees in Elkjøp are HK members. In the past year, 100 Elkjøp employees have joined the trade union, 60 of whom have become members since the new year.
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Elkjøp responds to the criticism
Elkjøp’s HR manager Jan Erik Aaserød points out that the bonuses of NOK 3,000 are not severance pay.
– It is a bonus our employees receive for providing good customer service during the notice period. The bonus comes in addition to ordinary salary, writes Aaserød to HK-Nytt.
Fawsi Adem in HK is critical of Elkjøp announcing positions soon after a downsizing process.
Aaserød responds to the criticism by pointing out that Elkjøp is a large company with many employees, with a certain degree of natural attrition during the year and a need to advertise positions. Several of the vacant positions are in stores that are not owned by Elkjøp or branches where there has been no downsizing, according to the HR manager.
– There are also vacant positions in stores where employees have refused a lower position fraction. We first advertise positions internally, and most of the full-time positions are offered to those affected by the downsizing, he writes.
61 percent of the positions affected in the process were part-time positions and 39 percent were full-time positions. Today, there are roughly the same number of full-time employees as part-time employees in the company, according to Elkjøp.
According to Aaserød, all store employees who have been offered a termination agreement are offered and have priority for vacant positions in Elkjøp for 12 months. It is a right enshrined in the Working Environment Act.
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Electricity purchase: Good and open dialogue
Fawsi Adem calls the warehouse managers “little kings” and believes that the downsizing has not been carried out correctly at several branches.
But Jan Erik Aaserød, on the other hand, has confidence in the department store managers.
– We always have a good and open dialogue in our company, from head office to store, in consultation with AMU and union representatives, to ensure that processes that we have been involved in take place in the best possible way, he writes.
The HR manager claims that the company’s procedures have been followed in the restructuring process. He understands that employees who are affected have a tough time.
– But the downsizing has been absolutely necessary to ensure a sustainable economy, several thousand jobs and a position as market leader, writes Aaserød.
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