Customs officers in Belgium, including those at airports, will be going on strike in the coming days if the federal government does not commit to improving their working conditions, the socialist public sector trade union ACOD said on Tuesday.
They are demanding additional recruitment, priority for coronavirus vaccination for the frontline staff who work alongside police, and consideration of the difficult and strenuous nature of the profession for pension purposes.
"Faced with the lack of respect from various officials, the patience of customs officers has reached its limits. Despite the risks involved, the customs officers have responded to every incident, to every crisis. Yet they feel scorned,” the union said.
It announced that, if the government does not respond to these requests to make changes, action will follow starting from 7 April, and could involve holding a 24-hour strike action every week.
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Additionally, it said the customs officers have been “taking on extra tasks for several months (notably due to Brexit) despite being chronically understaffed.”
The union added that this problem is causing the closure of crucial services and the abandonment of many posts, which in turn could result in an increase in fraud.
“The workers also describe deteriorating working conditions due to a lack of equipment and overloaded work schedules,” it said.
The unions had first given notice of a strike at the start of this month and said action would follow soon, "without quick and strong commitments" from the federal government.
The Brussels Times