Trade unions stick to rail strikes next week: “Figures and commitments requested but not received”

A conciliation meeting on Friday and an additional steering committee on Monday at the railways failed to yield results, leading the major unions to stick to their strike notice for November 29. Belga learned this on Tuesday from Günther Blauwens, general secretary of ACOD Spoor. HR-Rail, the personnel department of rail companies NMBS and Infrabel, announces that an alternative transport plan is again being provided.

Train drivers’ union ASTB, which last week called for a strike on November 30 and December 1, is also sticking to the 48-hour strike, ASTB reports on Facebook. The Independent Railway Staff Union (OVS) has announced that it supports the strike of the major unions ACV, ACOD and VSOA as well as that of ASTB. ASTB is complaining, among other things, that safety is compromised and working conditions are deteriorating.

“At the reconciliation meeting on Friday, it was proposed to hold an extra steering committee on Monday, but no concrete proposals with guarantees could be submitted,” said Blauwens of ACOD Spoor. “We have asked for figures and commitments, but they are not yet available to us. The proposals that were made are not very concrete.”

November 28 and 29

The common trade union front is therefore sticking to the strike notice, says Blauwens. It will be the second specific rail strike in a short time. On October 5, there was already a 24-hour strike. On November 9, there was also disruption on the track in the context of the inter-professional national strike and action day of the trade unions.

The major unions will now strike again from November 28 from 10 p.m. to November 29 at 10 p.m. They denounce a lack of investment at the railway company NMBS and infrastructure manager Infrabel. The unions consider the investments that the government committed to the railway at the end of the last budget conclave to be insufficient.

The unions also repeat other demands, such as measures to stop the deterioration of working conditions. This decline is mainly due to a lack of staff.

Investments postponed

SNCB top woman Sophie Dutordoir announced in the Chamber at the end of last month that after the budget conclave, in which the federal government came up with less money than the railway company had requested, investments would be postponed. The NMBS subsequently announced that the timetable will not be expanded in December as planned. The railway company referred to the difficult financial context for that decision, but also said it was struggling with outdated infrastructure, late deliveries of new material, more reports of rail runners and staff shortages.

For its part, HR-Rail announced on Tuesday that following the strike notice for November 29, the CEOs of NMBS and Infrabel “have given a number of clear signals and made important commitments, with a view to concluding a social agreement immediately after the conclusion of the public service contract for SNCB and the performance contract for Infrabel”.

Detained

“Despite these clear signals and commitments, the unions have maintained their strike notice,” HR-Rail said. “The CEOs of NMBS and Infrabel consider this a negative signal in the final negotiation phase to reach signed management contracts by the end of the year. The continuation of this strike notice also has a negative impact on our passengers, as well as on the image of the Belgian railways.”

HR-Rail also announces that an alternative transport plan is again being provided, which travelers will be able to consult at the latest the day before departure.

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