On Friday, Belgian public workers took to the streets in Brussels to reject their sectors' lack of staff, reduced budgets, and increased workloads.
Over 5,000 Police Officers Demonstrate in Belgium's Brussels
“None of our workers escaped budget cuts. That is why we sound the alarm bell: every country should have a strong public sector,” the Belgian Public Services Union (CGSP) stated.
The state-owned National Railway Company (SNCB) reported that the strike strongly disrupted the public transport networks. Only one metro line ran in Brussels, and 1 out of 3 trains worked while workers held this initiative. The strike affected the opening hours of some public services like town halls and recycling parks.
"A strike is always an admission of failure. There are several union demands related to salary, budget, and pension that we have not been able to meet for a long time," Economy Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne acknowledged.
Patrick Lebrun, the CGSP Secretary for Wallonia region, criticized European Council President Charles Michel for promoting austerity treatments in Belgium.
“The result of all this divestment policy? About 4,000 trains out of service for lack of staff to work in them- Public workers usually respond during major crises, but we would also like to have more consideration from our employers,” Lebrun said, recalling that over 5,000 CGSP members have lost their jobs.
Over the last weeks, the CGSP has negotiated better working conditions with ministers and party presidents. Although no agreement has yet been found, this union stressed that authorities are listening carefully to its demands.