24-hour rail strike in Belgium starts Tuesday night
Trains will stop in Belgium at 10 PM on Tuesday night, 4 October, due to a 24-hour strike. The train service will be very reduced on Wednesday, 5 October.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and the Federal Transport Minister Georges Gilkinet sent a letter to the rail unions, but it was not enough to convince the unions to call off the strike.
In the letter, the Belgian authorities promised to clarify the country's railway financing as soon as possible. They stated they understand “the unease that has arisen due to the delay in providing budgetary clarity with relation to the management contract for the railways”.
"We have received a courtesy note, while what asked for were guarantees and we have not been given them,” replied Koen De Mey, from Christian trade union ACV Transcom to Belgian VRT. The unions also demanded more workers for the railways.
De Croo and Gilkinet promised the federal budget should be ready by 15 October. During the budget talks, the rail service operator NMBS, the rail infrastructure company Infrabel and the Belgian Federal Government should have an agreement for the ten-year period from 2023 to 2032.
The agreement signed by the seven political parties from autumn 2020 stated that the Belgian rail system should become again “the backbone” of the country's transport network. Nevertheless, De Mey says the government has not given enough information on the financial means yet.
Passengers can check if their train will be running at www.nmbs.be.
© BELGA PHOTO (THIERRY ROGE) An NMBS-SNCB worker at the Brussels-South station in at the start of a 24 hours strike of workers of Belgian railway company NMBS - SNCB, 18 December 2019.