While almost 75% of prison staff in Flanders stayed off the job on Thursday morning, only about two-fifths took part in a nationwide penitentiary strike in Wallonia.
The prison administration reported that only 27.69% of penitentiary employees turned up for work in the northern part of the country, while 41.40% were on the job in Wallonia on Thursday morning.
During the night 37 police officers had to be deployed in the northern part of the country, while 58 were stationed at prisons there on Thursday morning.
The Christian and Socialist federations, CSC and CSGP, linked in a common trade union front, launched the 24-hour strike on Wednesday at 10:00 PM to protest against staffing and infrastructure problems linked to budget cuts by the federal government. They also rejected the establishment of a minimum service.
Nineteen prisons had a staff presence of less than 50% on Thursday: Ittre (18.60%), Leuze (31.43%), Marche-en-Famenne (30.56%), Mons (11.76%) and Saint-Gilles (12.82%). In Flanders, the strike was most followed at the prisons in Central Leuven (14.71%), Hasselt (17.24%) and Brugge (19.10%).
At the other end of the scale, the prisons in Namur, Lantin and Arlon in Wallonia had a staff presence of over 60%.
The strike is scheduled to end at 10:00 PM in Flanders and at 06:00 AM on Friday in Wallonia, with a maximum of 24 strike hours per worker.