Brussels fire brigade could strike over ‘inhumane’ working conditions
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    Brussels fire brigade could strike over ‘inhumane’ working conditions

    Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    The Belgian fire brigade union notified the Brussels Secretary of State that it will go on strike if Tuesday’s meeting on working conditions does not go well.

    In July, fire brigade union representative Eric Labourdette sent a list of demands to Brussels’ Secretary of State Pascal Smet. The list included demands to improve the serious lack of hygiene in fire brigade bases, resulting in “rat and maggot plagues” causing “horrible and inhumane” working conditions.

    It also called for a budget to restock the fire brigades’ reserves of protective clothing, disinfectant and soap, fearing that they would otherwise run out. Lastly, it called on the government to grant firefighters the promised special premiums for performing dangerous, challenging or unhealthy work.

    On 31 July, Smet responded to the list of demands by pointing out that the government had already raised the fire brigades’ budget with €3,800 million for 2020.

    Labourdette said in a letter on Monday that the union was not satisfied with this reply. If Tuesday’s meeting with Secretary Smet does not fulfil the demands, the union will organise a strike.

    Labourdette emphasised that the pandemic “makes the work of our officers even harder”.

    Throughout the pandemic, fire brigades have been part of wider efforts involving emergency services to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, including disinfecting ambulances and lifting Covid-19 patients out of their homes when necessary.

    Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times