Approximately 200 union members assembled at the Theatre de la Bourse in Brussels, from 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm on Monday. “This is a real inter-trade movement,” rejoiced Nic Gortz, federal employee at the trade union CSC Bruxelles-Halle-Vilvoorde. “We have not seen such a strong movement in 20 years in Brussels. Some companies were on strike for the first time ever. Some hard-to-reach economic sectors also rallied to the cause, such as rest homes, hotels, or banks (for example AG Insurance and Belfius). There was an unusually strong turnout in school, especially in light of the often rather insular character of the teaching profession. ”
According to CSC, the SNCB started the movement on Sunday night, followed by cargo personnel at Brussels Airport from 2.00 am. By 5.00 am the strike had reached businesses and supermarkets in the Medialand industrial zones in Vilvoorde, in Diegem, in Anderlecht, and in Drogenbos. Shops and the public sector, especially local authorities and public welfare centres, joined the movement between 8.00 am and 10.00 am. Businesses that were particularly involved were Audi, Caterpillar, Van Heck, and Komatsu. There were also picket lines at RTBF and VRT.
Marc Leemans, president of CSC, argued that “this is not a government that looks after ordinary people; it cares more for those who are already privileged in our society. It is making an ideological choice. (…) When disparities become too blatant, the system collapses.” He observes that spending cuts on employment, social security, or public services will mainly affect the underprivileged. “What we are doing is ‘filtering’ public opinion,” he adds. “Each movement will reinforce the message that we do not agree with what is going on.” He notes that this strike action is being followed not just by unions but also by the general population.