From the hospital to the zoo: Belgian workers protest coronavirus uncertainty
Thursday, 18 June 2020
Hospital employees, zoo staff and workers in the events sector demonstrated on Thursday to highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their professions. Thursday. Credit: Twitter/Milena Desse
Zoo employees, health care staff and workers in the events sector are all holding symbolic actions on Thursday, in a string of unrelated protests over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
As dozens of music boxes filled the stairs leading to the mass events venue Palais 5 in Brussels, zoo staff in Antwerp threatened management with a strike and several hospitals in Flanders will be holding a mostly online protest as all three sectors seek to bring attention to their plight, caused or exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Health care protests in Flanders
Workers in hospitals throughout Flanders are holding what unions say is the first “online action day” for the a better financing of non-profit and public health services.
“After the applause, time for investments in care, wellbeing and culture,” organising union ACV Puls wrote on Facebook.
The union said the protest will take place mainly in Flemish hospitals and will be bundled into a live-stream posted on its social media.
Since a large demonstration was not possible, personnel will organise mostly “creative” symbolic actions to show that they refuse to get only a “pat in the back” after emerging from the crisis.
“Was that just a pat on the back? To go back to business, as usual, the day after? Back to months of negotiations before a step forward for healthcare, welfare and culture is taken?” union spokesman Marc Selleslach said.
Strike threats at the zoo
Zoo workers lined up at the entrance of Antwerp Zoo at noon on Thursday as visitors filed into the site, in an act of protest to call out management for refusing to talk to workers after announcing layoffs.
As a result of the coronavirus crisis, some 24 job cuts were announced for staff in Antwerp Zoo as well as in Zoo Planckendael, in a bid by managing company KMDA to keep their heads above the water.
Het personeel van @zooantwerpen voert actie tegen onwil van de directie om te overleggen over ontslagen. “We voelen geen bereidheid tot overleg” zegt secretaris Steve Rosseel. “Binnenkort zouden er maatregelen worden genomen. Wij vragen om na te denken over andere oplossingen.” pic.twitter.com/juOiikO4J9