First there was a political crisis, now Belgians have to contend with an industrial one. Rail workers have staged the first in a series of 24-hour stoppages that will include Christmas and New Year. Few areas have no services at all but nationwide only about one in two trains are running normally. The OVS-SIC independent rail union representative, Kris Van de Putte, blames pressure from a new schedule: “It’s been growing for a while and we can’t take it anymore,” he said.
Tens of thousands of travellers were affected by the walkout, but for the moment it seems the strikers have some support over their working conditions. “They’re right to strike, they need to be heard. They’ve got jobs but they need time and money too,” said one commuter.
However other travellers were angry after being told that they could not use their tickets on another day. Unions say part of the problem is that the national railway operator, SNCB, is waiting for the formation of a new government to see the amount of money it will receive.