Belgian ecommerce topic of discussion
The Belgian government is considering labor market reform measures that will give ecommerce companies opportunities to work between 20:00 and midnight. It seems that the reform will meet some discussion. Chairman of the Belgian Socialist Party Paul Magnette has said in an interview that he wants Belgium to be a country without ecommerce.
Later this week, the Belgian government is planning to make decisions about the file ‘night work’. With those reforms, ecommerce companies within the country will be able to fulfil their logistics processes at night. Because of the current strict rules, many businesses outsource these processes to the Netherlands.
‘Ecommerce isn’t progress’
But the leader of the Socialist Party will not be supporting the reforms: “I don’t think ecommerce is progress, but social and environmental degradation. Why do we have to let workers work in those warehouses at night? Because consumers want to buy around the clock and have their parcels delivered within 24 hours. Can’t we wait two days for a book?”.
‘Let Belgium become a country without ecommerce, with real stores and bustling cities.’
He applauds the fact that logistics companies are pacing their warehouses across the border. “Let Belgium become a country without ecommerce, with real stores and bustling cities.” Advocates for the reform are concerned about the unemployment that will be a result of banning ecommerce activities in Belgium.
The federation of the trade sector, Comeos, has commented that Magnette’s remarks are reckless. “More than 80 percent of Belgians are already shopping online. If we need to get all those products from abroad, we will lose out on 9 billion euros in sales and ten thousands of jobs.”
‘More than 80 percent of Belgians are already shopping online.’
“The reality is that currently every store chain has a digital strategy. The future of retail will be digital as well as physical. If Magnette is concerned about working conditions, the solution is simple: he should help organize digital trade within Belgium, instead of placing it with foreign players.”
Number online stores almost doubled
According to Comeos, there is enough room within Belgium for ecommerce. During the lockdown in 2020, the number of online stores registered within the country almost doubled to 49.000. Political scientist Carl Devos added: “if we want the employment rate to get to 80 percent, we’ll need to excel in ecommerce. In other words, working in the evening and nights should be easier.”