Belgium facing more strike chaos

Belgium facing more strike chaos
By Catherine Hardy

Public sector workers call a general strike for Tuesday following stoppages by rail workers and prison guards in Wallonia and Brussels.

  • General strike on Tuesday
  • Brussels gridlocked on Monday
  • Train services in Flanders unaffected

    What is happening?

Belgium is heading for more strike chaos.

As rail workers and prison guards vote to extend strike action, a union representing public service workers has called its members out on Tuesday for 24 hours.

This is a general strike and will affect:

  • Public transport
  • Schools
  • Airports
  • Local authorities
  • the port of Antwerp

    What have the prison guards decided?

95% of prison guards working in Brussels and Wallonia have rejected a settlement proposed last week by Belgian Justice Minister, Koen Geens.

They are demanding better pay and working conditions and have been on strike for five weeks.

Rail workers

There is more bad news for road and rail users.

There is no end in sight in the dispute between the unions of the French-speaking rail personnel and Belgian train companies SNCB and Infrabel, also in Brussels and Wallonia.

Further disruption is expected on Tuesday.

When did the rail strike start?

Last Wednesday. It was a lightning strike that has been extended.

Emergency meetings held on Thursday and Friday failed to come up with a solution and a new meeting was scheduled for Monday.

What is it about?

Rail workers have walked out in protest at management plans to reduce the number of days they get back in time owed when they work extra hours.

Managers say they are prepared to negotiate but expect the unions to do the same.

Which unions are involved?

  • CGSP/Acod
  • CSC/ACV (chretien)

    Is it having an effect on transport?


Traffic congestion on Monday was said to be worst in a year, with hundreds of kilometres of tailbacks across the country.

Which areas are worst affected?

There are almost no trains running in the French-speaking south of Belgium.

  • Wallonia
  • Train services going through Francophone provinces eg the east-west line linking the coast to Ghent, Brussels, Liege and Eupen

    What about Flanders?

80% of services are running.

National protest

The stoppages come a week after 60,000 people gathered in Brussels on 24 of May to protest against the social and economic policies of the liberal government of Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Mr Michel said: “We will continue to make decisions, reform and take action.”

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