Unions in Belgium have again hit out at Carrefour despite the retail giant proposing to close fewer stores than originally planned in the country.

The French group, which was planning to close 21 stores in Belgium, has tabled revised plans to axe fewer outlets after talks with unions.

Carrefour has faced sporadic strike action since it first announced its plans in February. At the weekend, the company said the strikes had hit its sales by 15%.

The world’s second-largest retailer remains committed to scaling back its presence in Belgium but the company is now looking to save “seven to nine” of the outlets planned for closure.

However, there is still disquiet among staff representatives at Carrefour’s plants. A spokesman for the Setca union said the “token” changes to Carrefour’s proposals still included plans to cut wages among workers.

“It’s still unacceptable. Their plan is still to have wages lower than the competition,” the spokesman argued. “It’s still about cost-cutting. It’s not about a real future for Carrefour.”

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Unions representing Carrefour workers are now considering their response but, after a weekend in which over 30 stores were closed in protest, the spokesman for the Setca union said he expected a period of “calm”.

The spokesman admitted that Setca was now convinced that Carrefour wanted to stay in Belgium but again urged the retailer to spend money on its stores, which had endured “a lack of investment over 10 years”.

A Carrefour spokesman told just-food today (6 April) that the retailer plans to spend EUR300m (US$401.2m) on upgrading its remaining stores in Belgium by 2012.

The spokesman added the unions had “questions” over the “role” of the Mestdagh Group, the local retailer mulling plans to buy 20 Carrefour outlets in Belgium.