At around 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the numbers of staff striking at the company Proximus, opposite its Brussels headquarters, started to become more restricted. However, it was observed on site that hundreds of people were still gathered. Several days after the announcement of a plan to transform the company the call to go on strike, started by the trade unions acting as a common front, was overwhelmingly heard.
Stéphane Daussaint of CSC Transcom (the trade union for the telecommunications and transport sectors) said that no less than 1,500 people were present on site, indeed nearly 2,000 – a margin similar to the number of positions which the company is reckoning upon axing (1,900). Red, green and blue jackets were visible in mass numbers outside the “Proximus towers”, to protest against the restructuring plan announced last week. Workers said that they were very concerned for their situation.
Stéphane Daussaint is worried, “We are pleased in that the mobilization is significant and is taking place peacefully, although workers themselves are waiting with hopeful anticipation. When you see people around you, you ask yourself what will blow up. There is a large question mark wavering over every head.”
“Staff, both anxious and a little angry, wish to react, showing Madame Dominique Leroy that they deserve her respect. The CEO anticipates 1,900 redundancies, but many services are already understaffed,” continues Laurent Malengreau, General Secretary of the telecommunications union, CGSP Télécom.
A meeting had been anticipated with the management this Tuesday. However, the trade unions will not attend. “We will boycott these talks so as to give a signal to management and show our solidarity with staff,” states Mr Malengreau.
An information and consultation meeting with the management is, in principle, expected on Thursday. “We intend to spread the word as follows: staff alone should not have to pay the price for this transition. A share of the €240 million in savings has to be levied upon profits. Not just staff have to take the rap here,” indicates Stéphane Daussaint.
Proximus services are running on idle on Tuesday, owing to the strike. Many shops and call centres are closed and the majority of engineer appointments with customers have been cancelled.
Last Thursday, the Managing Director of the telecoms operator, Dominique Leroy, announced a three-year “transformation plan” involving both the removal of 1,900 jobs and the parallel hiring of 1,250 people. Proximus in particular justified this plan by the growing customer demand for new digital services and new types of connectivity, such as the so-called “Internet of Things”. The Prime Minister mentioned on Monday that the government is opposed to forced redundancies.