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    Government does U-turn on name badges for train conductors

    © Belga/Eric Lalmand
    © Belga/Eric Lalmand

    The federal mobility minister François Bellot has reversed a previous decision to have train conductors wear a name badge. Following complaints from the conductors themselves, the badge will now carry only a number corresponding to the employee’s identity.

    The name badge had been intended to help identify a conductor in the event of a complaint or incident, but the conductors argued it would make them potential targets for disgruntled passengers seeking revenge, for example those caught and fined for fare-dodging.

    In one case in February, a man who had been obliged to pay a fine of 75 euros for travelling without a valid ticket traced a train conductor on social media thanks to his name badge, and sent a death threat.

    Below had promised the rail unions he would evaluate the situation, and he has now decided to reverse the previous policy. “After several contacts with the SNCB, we have been informed of cases of reprisals that have taken place against employees,” a spokesperson for the ministry said. “We have therefore decided, regardless of the brief time left to this legislature, to replace the name badge with a number, so that the employee cannot be traced on social media or otherwise.”

    The change requires an amendment to the law, and Bellot has presented his amendment to parliament, so that it may be passed before the end of this legislature.

    The decision was welcomed by socialist and Christian unions. “The CGSP has not stopped applying pressure in order to obtain an exception for the employees concerned,” said the national secretary of the socialist union, Thierry Moers. “Today we learn that the law will be amended to get rid of the name badge, which is a major sigh of relief for the safety of our members.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times