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    STIB network hit by strike for second straight day

    © Belga

    Brussels’ bus and tram network is running at a reduced frequency on Tuesday morning after drivers walked off work for the second consecutive day arguing unsafe working conditions.

    At around 6:00 AM STIB announced that traffic was impacted again, and as of 8:30 AM, the company said all metro lines were running normally, that only some 20 bus lines were running and that all trams, except line 7, were running at a reduced frequency.

    The action was launched on Monday by drivers who walked off the job to pressure the public transport company to agree to implement stricter hygiene and social distancing measures.

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    The action coincided with the first day of shops reopening in Belgium, after nearly two-months of shutting down due to the coronavirus lockdown.

    Drivers are against the company’s push for the network to return to its regular timetable, which would see services gradually tick up after a reduction implemented amid the lockdown.

    As services inch towards normal frequencies, the protesting drivers are demanding that the company caps the maximum number of passengers allowed to board a vehicle so that appropriate social-distancing can be observed.

    Speaking to the press on Monday, a representative of the action movement also said that buses were no longer thoroughly cleaned at the end of the shift, a claim that was denied by STIB spokesperson Françoise Ledune.

    Ledune told The Brussels Times on Monday that the company would not respond to the drivers’ demands, because they were not backed by unions, with whom they had already reached an agreement on the gradual increase of services.

    Public transport staff have worked through the lockdown, with drivers remaining on the front lines as they continued to operate lines even as the frequencies were changed or reduced.

    In April, STIB said that it would reinforce its lines that led to hospitals or other medical centres in an effort to ensure health workers had enough means of transportation.

    Ledune said in a text message on Tuesday that, since the beginning of the outbreak, there had been “around a dozen” confirmed cases of Covid-19 among its 9,300 members of personnel.

    “Some drivers, some technicians and administrative staff,” she wrote, adding: “Driving staff is not more affected than other categories of personnel.”

    The Brussels Times