Belgium to be paralysed by general strike on 31 May

Belgium to be paralysed by general strike on 31 May
Participating union, the FGTB, at a previous demonstration, dressed in their signature red. © Belga

Several national public sector unions will conduct a one-day nationwide strike action on 31 May, paralysing much of Belgium’s key infrastructure, according to statements from several unions.

Disruptions will take place across the country. There will be few or no buses and trains, nor any rubbish collection within the Wallonia and Brussels regions.

Recycling centres around the country will also be closed. Equally, it is likely that many provincial, regional, and federal administrations will also close, due to lack of staff.

The participation of major unions the General Central of Public Services (CGSP) and the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB) have already been confirmed, according to several media sources.

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In Flanders, teachers unions will be going on strike, refusing to conduct their classes. Other public sector workers are expected to join suit and the strike may even spill over into the private sector.

Other services that may potentially be affected by the strike include mail distribution, the care sector, and municipal utilities services. Public broadcaster RTBF will also be impacted by the strike.

Strike action notices have been delivered to the TEC, SNCB, and Bruxelles Propreté by the unions ahead of the action.

Strikers from the CGSP are protesting against the rapidly rising cost of living in Belgium, and decreasing household purchasing power. They demand higher pensions, quality employment, and respect for workers unions.

Belgium’s socialist union will also join the strikes, denouncing the “general malaise” in the public sector caused by the high cost of living. Inflation has reached 39 year highs in Belgium, affecting a wide array of goods and services.

Not all unions have joined the general strike so far. School teachers in Wallonia have stated that it is not the right time for mobilisation, according to Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Travellers are advised to stay up to date with service updates from national and regional transport companies.

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