All bus and tram traffic ground to a halt in the early hours of Friday in the entire province of Antwerp due to a strike, public transport company De Lijn announced.
Shortly after 6:00 AM, De Lijn announced on Twitter than a strike by dispatch staff meant that “all vehicles in the province of Antwerp” would not run.”
The Flemish public transport operator said it was looking for a solution and apologised to commuters for the nuisances, which spread beyond the province’s borders.
The company cited security concerns as the reason behind the decision to pull all buses and trams, as the dispatch service is charged with monitoring traffic.
Door een staking van dispatch Antwerpen kunnen we de veiligheid niet garanderen. Daarom zullen alle voertuigen in de provincie Antwerpen niet uitrijden. De Lijn zoekt naar een oplossing. Onze excuses voor het ongemak.#DeLijn
The disruptions sparked outrage with commuters on Twitter, with several responding to the company’s announcement, calling the situation “ridiculous” or “shameful.”
De Lijn staff have been striking for days over a mounting workload and had said on 30 December that an action was planned on Friday, with a trade union secretary saying he expected the action would last into the afternoon.
Geert Vermunicht of trade union ACOD said he expected the afternoon team to “follow in the footsteps of the morning team,” adding that other trade unions were showing support for their protest.
“If the dispatch ceases work, then that is a clear signal that something must change,” he said, according to HLN.
A holiday-hours service has been put in place by the network, with strike in Antwerp impacting services as far as Ghent, where several bus lines are running with adapted hours one line is currently not operating.
In West Flanders, the strike has scrapped around half of all regular bus journeys while in the Flemish Brabant De Lijn said in online statement there was “nuisance all over the lines.”