Postal workers in Belgium stopped work on Wednesday in protest of mounting workloads resulting from a surge in online shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff working with bpost in the municipality of Ixelles are demanding the company ease staff by hiring more workers, including on temporary interim contracts, to deal with the swelling workload.
“With the coronavirus, e-commerce boomed,” Mouna Aouni, a union representative, told RTL, noting that parcel distribution had nearly doubled.
“We feel that people are getting tired, it’s a general feeling,” she said. “From staff at distribution centres to mail carriers and office clerks — it’s heating up everywhere.”
“Workloads have been huge for a long time and it will not decrease immediately,” she said. “Moreover, temperatures will begin to get warmer in the coming weeks.”
Following the work stoppages on Wednesday morning, bpost representatives held talks with unions during which they reportedly agreed to hire reinforcements from Monday.
While the declaration was enough to see some of the employees return to work, Aouni said others chose to wait and see what happened on Monday, adding that new protests could not be excluded.
The work-stoppage coincides with a move by bpost to scale services back up to pre-pandemic activity and comes on the same day the company resumed overseas parcel deliveries to five Asian destinations, which come after it reinstated deliveries to the US, China, Russia, Canada and Brazil only a week prior.
The Brussels Times