Belgium: Wildcat strike by bus drivers

Wildcat strike action began on Friday morning at the Haren Bus Depot which is in a suburb of Brussels, after workers learnt that a colleague had been fired.

Submitted by jef costello on April 22, 2007

The worker has been accused of falsifying an expenses claim by claiming payments for hours spent on union tasks from the management, resulting in his being paid twice for them.

Roughly half of all services from the depot were cancelled on Friday. The strike continued on Saturday with only 39 buses out of 148 running. At Delta depot, 4 out of 5 routes were running with 26 of the 130 buses not moving all day. Only six out of 114 buses were not running from the Jacques Brel depot.

In total the action affected roughly one in six buses across the city according to management. The action mainly affected bus line 12, which links Brussels to the airport. Management were forced to go across Brussels notifying passengers that the service would not be running. They were unable to mount a replacement service with passengers being forced to take longer routes or use the metro.

The transport minister for the region André Antoine has called the action 'scandalous'. In the past Antoine has called for strikers to be sacked.

Update: the strike came to an end on Saturday night. The CGSP union, whose member's sacking seems to have sparked the action, has refused to either condemn or to openly support the action. He did however mention that wildcat strikes were not currently covered under employment legislation. The government has been calling for a 'legal minimum service' it is unclear if this is for all industries. The strike also seems to have won concessions on other issues, notably safety gloves and vests for security staff and self-defence classes for drivers.