Rail traffic is reported to have returned to normal after the two-day strike on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with the additional promise normal service will be resumed: unions and management of the rail authority SNCB/NMBS have reached an agreement which is likely to rule out further industrial action for the summer. The main element of the agreement involves an increase of 6% in purchasing-power payments for train drivers – a formula which allows the SNCB to treat it as a one-off allowance, rather than a change in pay conditions.
In return, drivers have agreed to a productivity increase of 2%.
The agreement includes a sliding scale of premiums. New employees will be treated as if they already had four years of service. For those of five to 12 years, a fidelity supplement of €5,000 will be paid, according to actual years of service. Older drivers will build up a fund of loyalty premiums of €5,000, rising to €7,500 for those serving more than 18 years.
The premiums paid for early shifts and difficult routes – currently amounting to about €120 a month – will also be increased.
Drivers in return have agreed to productivity increases of 2%, largely created by more flexibility in planning schedules.
The agreement concerns the unions ACV-Transcom and VSOA, but not the socialist union ACOD, which refused to sign the accord, or the smaller unions representing train conductors. Those will have to be negotiated with separately.