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De Lijn staff threaten to strike over safety rules

Credit: Belga

Staff of Flemish public transport company De Lijn are threatening to strike if all buses are not quickly fitted with a protective wall for the drivers, according to Rita Coeck of the socialist trade union, ACOD.

Last week, the common front of trade unions filed a notice covering actions from Monday, she said.

Unions expect management to come up with concrete guidelines on how many people can sit on a bus or tram and how it should be done. “Nobody can say how many, and management believes that few people will take the bus,” said Coeck.

The trade unions also want details on who will check and how these checks will be carried out. “Our controllers? Sure, we can call on them, but we only have about a hundred of them in the whole of Flanders. They can’t be mobilised everywhere,” she explained. “And will the police check them? They’re not De Lijn’s personal guard.”

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“The protection of passengers and drivers is our top priority,” De Lijn’s management said. “We’ve followed all government directives precisely and swiftly since the beginning of the crisis, and we’ve always consulted the unions.”

As for the protective walls, they “have been ordered to protect the driver’s cab,” the company said. “However, part of the order for the protections was cancelled by the German supplier.”

De Lijn’s emergency solution consists of plastic film, which is used on 80% of its buses (about 3,000) all over Flanders.

Coeck said the strike notice will be withdrawn if protection is provided in all buses.

The Brussels Times