On Saturday, employees of Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof protested against the planned closures of 35 stores nationwide. In Düsseldorf, the frustration exploded on a cardboard figure of the company owner Benko.
Hundreds of employees of the department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof protested on Saturday all over North Rhine-Westphalia against the closure of their stores, according to union sources. In Düsseldorf, they were able to express their displeasure in a particularly striking way thanks to the support of the well-known carnival float manufacturer Jacques Tilly: Employees wearing boxing gloves beat a larger-than-life cardboard figure representing company owner René Benko until the sculpture fell apart.
Parts of the staff wore black T-shirts or mourning stickers and symbolically buried the department store. By the end of the month, around 35 Galeria-Kaufhof and Karstadt stores throughout Germany are scheduled to close. According to the Verdi union, Saturday was the last day for most of them. In Bonn and Essen, the lights had already gone out earlier after the shelves had been emptied. Six more closures are to follow in January.
Especially for small towns, including Gummersbach, Neumünster and Witten, the store closures are a bitter setback in the battle for public traffic in their inner cities. With around 130 department stores remaining, the ailing company hopes to quickly return to the black.
The Verdi trade 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 Jürgens. According to Verdi, around 2500 employees are losing their jobs nationwide.