Belgian healthcare workers prepare to strike on 24 October
Monday, 09 September 2019
A national strike day is being planned for 24 October 2019 by unions representing Belgian’s healthcare workers in response to continued frustration with working conditions and poor dialogue.
Requests made by healthcare unions were rejected by the employers’ federation of the healthcare sector on Monday.
Health sector workers want to sign collective labour agreements (CTCs) to implement an agreement that was signed almost two years ago.
Several unions have indicated their intention to continue with “White Coat Tuesdays”, a framework through which healthcare workers have demonstrated in the past to express grievances. On Monday, the CNE (National Central Office of Employees and Executives of the Private Sector) filed a strike notice to cover the cost of collective action.
On Monday morning the Federal Public Service Employment presented one hundred activists with a ballot with a choice between either signing collective labour agreements or to strike, on Monday morning.
The unions, who mobilised every Tuesday in June, want to express their frustration at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health Care.
Among the agreements is a CTC allowing workers to go on vacation for three consecutive weekends during annual holidays as well as a CTC requiring hospitals to communicate data concerning the first phase of the implementation of the new measures, a step that is necessary before the launch of the second phase.
The unions also want there to be a schedule of discussions to discuss signing the other collective labour agreements.
“The employers’ federations have refused our requests and agree to negotiate only after having discussed in a working group on the functioning of the Joint Commission”, commented Yves Hellendorff National Secretary CNE. A working group will meet on 26 September, while the next plenary meeting is scheduled for 14 October.
“It becomes both laughable and unbearable,” Hellendorff said. It is “ludicrous because we have the impression that no dialogue exists, unbearable because, on the ground, the staff is in a very difficult situation,” he continued.
In response to the situation, the Common Front has drawn up a plan of action, indicating that there will be a national strike day on 24 October.