Belgium: rail-workers begin first one-day strike

Belgian rail-workers launched a one-day strike action on Saturday in support of their demands for new staff and a pay increase.

Submitted by jef costello on December 9, 2007

The strike was called by the Independent Rail-workers' Union (SIC). Although this is one of the smaller unions, officials predicted roughly 50% observance by workers in Flanders and slightly less in Wallonia. The strike began at 4:30am and ended at roughly midnight when the day's last train was due to run.

In Flanders most lines were running no services with one line running at 25% and the other at 40%. In Wallonia there were delays and cancellations in the morning but by the afternoon apart from one line running at 75% most routes were unaffected. The international TGV and Thalys services were reporting delays of between one and a half and two hours in the morning although management claimed that the service had returned to normal by mid-afternoon.

The main demand is for the hiring of more mechanics and drivers as current shortages are leading to increased stress for workers and excessive workloads.. Workers are also demanding that the pay scales for train drivers and other railworkers to be re-evaluated.

Notice has been given for further strike action in December on the 15th, 22nd and 29th. There are also plans for 24 hour strikes for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.