Personnel at five Brussels public hospitals on strike

Personnel at five Brussels public hospitals on strike
The staff is denouncing the increasing workload, and asking for a new recruitment budget and a wage increase. Credit: Belga

The personnel at five public hospitals in Brussels are on a 24-hour strike, denouncing the increasing workload, and asking for a new recruitment budget and a wage increase.

The strike is taking place in five hospitals of the Iris network, the umbrella of public hospitals in Brussels, namely the Brugmann University Nursing Center, Sint-Pieter University Medical Center, Jules Bordet Institute, Queen Fabiola University Children’s Hospital and the Iris Hospitals South.

In front of the main Iris building, in Rue Dejoncker in Sint-Gillis, about 350 demonstrators gathered on Monday morning, according to the different trade unions. At around 9:30 AM, consultations were started there between trade union representatives, Committee C (the negotiating committee for public services) and the management of the Iris hospitals.

Due to the excessive workload, employees can no longer guarantee the care that is required for their patients, they said, so they are asking for a budget to be made available for new recruitments. Wages must also go up since Brussels staff earns “up to 15% less” than their colleagues in Flanders and Wallonia, said Maxime Nys of the socialist union, reported VRT NWS.

In addition, the trade unions also ask for a better pension plan and a full reimbursement of transport costs.

“This strike is not the ultimate means of pressure, but it makes clear that we have had enough. Today’s action must allow negotiations to start,” explained Benoit Lambotte, regional secretary at the ACV-CSC trade union, to VRT NWS.

Dirk Thielemans, CEO ad interim of the Iris hospitals explained that all the hospital’s emergency services are still running. “We are also still carrying out consultations. We have postponed planned interventions in the operating quarters, but everything else functions normally,” said Thielens, who hopes that this protest “will only last for this one day”.

After consultation between the trade unions and the management of the Iris hospital network, it was decided to set up several working groups to resolve the social conflict. “We have drawn up a schedule, and together we will determine the priority subjects of those working groups. We should come up with an initial proposal by the beginning of September,” said Thielens to VRT NWS.

“At the moment there are no specific items we have committed to yet, but we will probably start with those that do not cost too much money,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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