If no “solution” for the pension situation is found, Flemish maritime pilots could block the Belgian ports in large numbers. They would stage a protests strike starting on Sunday, says the Gazet van Antwerpen. “The government is holding our pension to ransom. They want to take 30% away in one go. Therefore, we are planning to protest on the 12th of April. The effect will be the same as in 2012”, said the president and spokesman of the neutral professional federation of maritime pilots, the BvL (neutral Beroepsvereniging van Loodsen).
In 2012, a maritime pilots’ strike stopped dozens of ships entering port over several days. Some of them contained perishables such as fruit. This had heavy economic consequences. Maritime pilots are in charge of guiding ships entering or leaving ports, or getting them through a patch of difficult water.
“If they don’t want to recognise our profession as a “heavy and demanding” profession, then we will only work office hours, as for a normal job… Between now and Sunday, we want a clear commitment by the Federal Minister for Pensions”.