Garbage collection in Brussels continues to be disrupted this weekend
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    Garbage collection in Brussels continues to be disrupted this weekend

    Bags have not been collected across the region. Credit: Belga

    Garbage collection has not returned to normal in Brussels in contrast to what was previously announced, Michel Piersoul, SLFP union representative said on Friday afternoon.

    A strike notice was filed by the three unions in response to the pressure imposed on garbage collecting staff to catch up on incomplete rounds, Piersoul explained. Most garbage collectors in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek municipality went on strike on Friday afternoon and will continue to do so on Saturday and Sunday. 

    The garbage collection in the Brussels Region has been disrupted since 18 November due to a protest against Bruxelles-Propreté’s management’s proposal to adjust the work system. Brussels’ garbage collecting agency, Bruxelles-Propreté, was considering increasing the two-thirds threshold of the “fini-fini” system, meaning that all personnel is sent home once two-third of the trucks in the area have returned to the depot, to 90%, in order to reduce the number of work accidents caused by rushing staff members. 

    To protest against this extension of working time, workers decided to scrupulously respect their safety instructions, which prescribe, for example, to take only one bag by hand, not to rush and to respect a time of rest. The majority of the tours, therefore, were not completed.  

    It was reported on Tuesday that the staff of Bruxelles-Propreté had resumed its garbage collecting rounds as normal in the Brussels Region, after management scrapped the proposed change to the “fini-fini” system. However, the withdrawal of the proposed change was not enough to quell the discontent of workers responsible for door-to-door collecting.

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    SLFP estimate that nearly 50% continue to work at a slower pace in line with safety regulations. 

    The workers are protesting against the increased work caused by the 2017 reform of collection rounds. “After the reform of collections, management hardened the system even more… workers were being forced to adopt a crazy pace in order to cover a [collection] tour’s extra kilometres,” the union representative explained. 

    Even though garbage collectors were first asked to catch up on a voluntary basis, pressure began to be felt, Piersoul said, who then described threats of disciplinary sanctions and cancelling of leave for garbage collectors in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek municipality. 

    The Brussels Times