Chronic labor shortages plague Hungary’s supermarket chains

August 10, 2016

help-wanted

Tesco and other retailing chains are struggling to hire enough employees even after increasing wages, so much so that the retailing giant (and Hungary’s largest employer) is holding a crisis council today, reports daily online nol.hu.

Customers visiting Tesco’s first stand-alone store in Budapest’s District 14 in July encountered row after row of empty shelves owing to a lack of employees, particularly in its central warehouse.

The labor situation has reached the point where Tesco invited trade union leaders to attend the crisis council to address the chronic shortage of workers at its central warehouse facility in Gyál.

According to nol.hu’s sources, the warehouse has been operating for several weeks with only 70 percent of the labor force required to properly supply Tesco’s extensive network of hypermarkets and grocery stores in Hungary.  The company reportedly tried to solve the problem with the use of temporary workers. However, this resulted in tensions because the temporary workers were paid more than regular employees.

Recently, Tesco announced a 15 percent across-the-board wage increase at all of its stores, but it seems that even this is not sufficient to attract more labor.

Not only Tesco is in trouble

A number of retailing chains are reportedly struggling to cope with chronic labor shortages, particularly in their central warehouses.  Nol.hu writes that the chains now find themselves competing not only for customers but for employees as well.  For example, German supermarket chain Lidl’s advertisments for employees openly offer HUF 200,000 (USD 730) more a year than competing retailing chains.

The situation has not been alleviated by the government.  Fidesz parliamentary delegation leader Lajos Kósa announced on Monday his party’s intention to introduce a bill this year that would limit the number of Sundays retailing employees could be required to work in a given month.  The Fidesz politician said the bill might apply to Saturdays as well.

Such a bill would invariably result in Hungary’s supermarket chains trying to hire even more employees than they are currently unable to.