The management and trade unions of the Flemish public transport company, De Lijn, met for informal talks on Wednesday morning. No progress was made. Consequently the strike anticipated to start on Friday was confirmed. Jan Coolbrandt, of the CSC-Services Publics (the public services union) announced this. This was indicated by the representative of the Christian trade union, who said, “Both parties listened to each other’s points of view but nothing more. No tangible progress was made. The strike action will go ahead.”
He also stressed that no actual negotiation had been planned since the strike was announced, although the management and the trade unions are still in contact. Staff representatives will take stock of the situation next Tuesday.
The joint trade union movement, which has formed to resolve this issue, is intending to have four days of strikes, from Friday morning through to Monday evening. The trade unions are asking all bus and tram drivers not to work on at least one of these days. Thus, at this stage it is difficult to predict the scale of the strike. Moreover, the trade unions have further called for drivers employed by private companies, operating routes on behalf of De Lijn, to also stop work.
The main stumbling block concerns the collective bargaining agreement currently being discussed. The trade unions are demanding a wage increase of 1.1% in addition to indexation, as the last industry agreement permitted. The company management only envisages an increase of 1%, half of which will be offered through a bonus scheme.