Trade unions representing railway workers on Thursday rejected a draft social accord for 2020-2022 proposed by the management of Belgium’s railways, the unions announced jointly following a steering committee meeting.
United in a common front, the unions, CGSP-Cheminots, CSC Transcom and SLFP Cheminots, opposed management’s proposals and reiterated their demands, which include increasing salaries by 1.1% and maintaining a 36-hour working week for the entire workforce, both present and future. The unions also requested a clear, concrete response by Thursday next, following which they will meet to examine management’s response and decide on their reaction.
The negotiations on the social accord began in June. “In response to employees’ main concerns regarding employment, well-being on the job and purchasing power, the Belgian railway management is proposing a new increase in productivity and flexibility fundamentally disproportionate to the appreciation of the purchasing power, such as doing new recruitments on the basis of a 38-hour week or introducing 12-hour shifts,” CGSP Cheminots said.
Moreover, wage conditions would be based on a weighted average of profiles, objectives set, and merit, the socialist union added.
No general proposal for railway workers is envisaged whereas they have made considerable efforts over the past four years, CGSP charged, adding that productivity has increased by 20% and 4,500 jobs have disappeared.
With workers are already on a tightrope in terms of working conditions and staffing, management’s proposals are “light years away” from their expectations, the SLFP noted, for its part.
In addition to the 1.1% salary increase – as per an existing interprofessional agreement – and the maintenance of the 36-hour working week, the unions are asking for identical conditions of remuneration for statutory employees and contract staff, based on the same salary scales, not merit. They also say they are determined.