Belgian rail companies propose social agreement

Belgian rail companies propose social agreement
Credit: Charlotte Gekiere/Belga.

Belgium's rail companies SNCB (which operates the rolling stock) and Infrabel (which maintains the rail infrastructure) have proposed a social agreement to rail unions that will, if accepted, apply to the coming two years. The main proposal aims to answer growing demands for more recruits.

In response to the Federal Government's investment into the SNCB and Infrabel, Belgium's rail workers had spent the final months of 2022 calling for an increase in resources and recruits to their sector. Following protests, the same demands were made in negotiations with management over a social agreement.

In response, the public companies have attempted to resolve the issue in their latest proposal, which rail unions are expected to answer come March at the latest.

Revealed by L-Post on Tuesday, the proposals aim to safeguard the well-being of the rail companies' employees, especially given the current cost of living crisis.

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The SNCB and Infrabel collectively have promised to hire 4,187 additional staff until 2024, 2,600 of which will be employed by the SNCB and 1,513 by Infrabel. Yet despite the influx of recruits, it is possible that even more current employees will be made redundant as the rail sector modernises.

The companies will also increase benefits, with eco-vouchers of up to €250 for all workers and a €0.50 increase in the value of their meal vouchers.

Finally, a zero-tolerance policy on aggression towards railway workers will be implemented. This comes after a rise in attacks on their staff in recent years. Management has assured employees that they will receive the necessary help if they are victims.

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