Aggression against Belgian railway staff on the rise, SNCB calls for more respect
The Belgian railway company SNCB launched a new campaign against aggression on train and station staff on Thursday. It received 1,900 reports of aggression last year, considerably more than in 2019. With the campaign, the SNCB asks for more respect for its employees.
The problem has garnered renewed attention in Belgium this week, when several train conductors became the victim of aggression, with one being hospitalised. SNCB colleagues reacted with spontaneous strikes in the regions of Kortrijk and Liège.
The SNCB reported on Thursday that Belgian train and station staff have increasingly become victims of aggression over the past two years. In 2022, the railway company received 1,900 reports, a similar number to 2021 and a 60 per cent increase from 2019. This January, SNCB received 50 per cent more cases of aggression than in January 2022.
Four in ten cases involve physical violence, but SNCB employees are also victims of verbal aggression, including insults and threats. In 70 per cent of cases, train conductors are the victims. Last year, 450 people employees were absent due to aggression, accounting for a total of 9,200 days of work disability. Verbal and physical violence also have a rising impact on punctuality and the number of cancelled trains.
SNCB CEO Sophie Dutordoir called for zero tolerance towards aggression on train staff. "We ask justice to punish aggression severely," she said. Belgian Home Affairs minister Annelies Verlinden added that violence against railway staff is "always unacceptable and disrespectful", and that the employees "deserve only the greatest respect."
© BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT