The Syndicat indépendant cheminots (SIC – Independent railway workers union) announced on Sunday on Facebook that its members would join a 24-hour railway strike from 10 p.m. on Sunday 28 March.
However, the Syndicat autonome des conducteurs de train (SACT), which represents train drivers, will not take part in the protest action, according to an announcement also made on social media.
The announcements came amid difficult negotiations on wage and working conditions in the private sector that have been ongoing since January. The two main trade union federations, CSC and FGTB, aim to step up the pressure and have called for a day of actions, including strikes, in various organisations and businesses in Belgium on Monday 29 March.
Announcing its move to join the common front and cover its members for the 29 March strike, the SIC said it “has not been an easy decision.”
“Solidarity is important and the payroll standard is also applicable to public companies involved in an economic activity,” the SIC noted, adding that “capping the wage cushion at 0.4% for the next two years would be a bad starting point for the negotiations” within the Group of 10, made up of representatives of trade unions, employers and other stakeholders such as farmers.
“It’s united resistance that will lead to results,” the SIC stressed.
The SACT, for its part, said it understood the strike, although it was “not its fight.” Moreover, it added, “if railway traffic is blocked, the strikers will find it harder to get to and from the demonstration sites.”
Another railway workers’ union, SLFP Cheminots, has also not joined the strike.
The unions’ main demands for negotiations on an upcoming inter-professional agreement focus on a significant increase in the minimum wage and low salaries, improved pension-related conditions and modifications to the law on payroll standards, amended in 2017.