Courtrai and federal police forces were called in support to monitor the Prison in Bruges on Monday, as local police is refusing to undertake this mission in view of the number of successive strike actions by guards. This support is made possible thanks to an agreement between various police districts. “This is like the support in place during football matches,” comments Courtrai police. The backup is currently in place for one day only, pending reassessment.
Bruges police forces have already spent 900 hours dealing with the dissatisfaction of prison guards in recent weeks, and they warned last week they would refuse to intervene if a new wildcat strike occurred at the prison. They deem that their main tasks cannot be undertaken in this context.
Unions view this refusal as more reason to fight. “We are not impressed,” responded Rudy Delaere (CGSP, a Socialist union). “In recent years local police forces had backup from 30 extra members in this sort of situation. Where are they now?” The union member maintains the 24-hour strike which started on Monday at 6:00am is widely observed.
CGSP has been protesting for weeks against the dearth of staff at Bruges prison. Other unions have reached an agreement but CGSP is demanding a national policy and carrying on with its protest.