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    SNCB and unions reach agreement after two-day strike


    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.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times