Over 175 Belgian rail employees fired for alcohol abuse over four year period

Over 175 Belgian rail employees fired for alcohol abuse over four year period
Credit: SNCB

A total of 176 employees from both Belgium's national railway company, SNCB, and the government-owned railway maintenance company, Infrabel, were fired between 2014 and 2018 on the grounds of alcohol abuse in the workplace.

Exactly 113 French-speaking full-time workers and 63 Dutch-speaking workers lost their jobs because they were drunk at work and behaved poorly, the legal employer of Belgium's railway staff, HR Rail, told HLN.

Just as with truck drivers or taxi drivers, train drivers and national rail employees are required to respect the alcohol limits set by their employers, which, for SNCB and Infrabel employees is set at a limit of 0.2% blood alcohol content.

Where overstepping the legal alcohol limit is concerned, "we naturally stand for zero tolerance," HR Rail spokeswoman Barbara Kielbaey said.

Additionally, another cause of redundancies during the 2014-2018 period was misconduct such as sexual harassment or physical violence. A total of 24 French-speaking and 29 Dutch-speaking rail employees lost their jobs for reasons related to misconduct.

Moreover, 98 employees were fired during the same four year period for stealing, committing fraud, or violating the expectations of their position.

Two Dutch-speaking employees were fired for damage to the employer's property, and 94 employees- 47 French-speaking and 47-Dutch speaking- were shown the door as a result of wrongful absence.

Before being fired, there are a number of other measures that can be taken by the employer, including a demotion, suspension, wage deduction or transfer, for example. Dismissal is the ultimate and final sanction, HR Rail explains.

Employees of Belgian rail who have received a sanction are able to appeal the decision. However, in the four year period between 2014 and 2018, there were only three instances whereby sanctions were appealed.

The majority of the redundancies came from SNCB, with slightly fewer coming from Infrabel.

Evie McCullough

The Brussels Times

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