Public transport across the country will be affected by the general strike called by the main unions for 13 February, as employees of the national rail authority SNCB, Brussels public transport authority Stib, Walloon bus service TEC and Flemish equivalent De Lijn all join in the action. Unions are striking to protest the breakdown in talks on wages held within the Group of Ten, which brings together unions and managers. Bosses were constrained to a real increase in pay over the coming two years of 0.8%, while unions were demanding 1.5%. That impasse only affects the private sector, but unions representing public sector workers have also joined in the action.
The rail unions have all joined in with the strike call, which as usual runs from 2200 the evening before the day of the strike until 2200 on 13 February itself. However some trains will run: since last year, the SNCB is legally bound to lay on a minimum service. The authority is already making plans to provide that service, for the third time since the new legislation came into force, a spokesperson said.
No such obligation is placed on the other three public transport authorities, however, and disruption is expected to be extensive. A knock-on effect on the roads is also expected, as commuters who would normally travel by public transport take the car out for one day only to make it to work.
Meanwhile in other sectors, unions have called on their members in the ports, air traffic control and ground crew at airports to join in the action on 13 February.