Flemish government resolves dispute over civil service statute ending strikes in locks

The Flemish government has reached an agreement with the Free Syndicate for Public Service (VSOA) and the General Union of Public Services (ACOD) regarding the reform of the Flemish civil service statute. This was announced by Flemish Minister for Home Affairs and Administration Gwendolyn Rutten (Open VLD) and Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA). This will end the strikes that have been taking place in locks around Belgium over the last week.

Shipping stalled

Lock operators have been on strike since Monday, expressing dissatisfaction with the civil service reforms. As a result, hundreds of ships are stuck in the locks, leading to massive shipping disruptions.

On Tuesday evening, Rutten and the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV) agreed to reform the civil service statute; however, the VSOA and the ACOD continued to strike. On Friday, the Flemish government arranged with the unions to bring their protests to an end.

According to Rutten's cabinet, the modernisation of Flemish personnel policy remains the starting point. In general, new civil servants in the Flemish government will no longer be appointed permanently by default. Permanent appointments will, therefore, be phased out. There will be an exception for authority positions, and current staff can keep their status.

New reforms

The agreement by the Flemish government with the VSOA and the ACOD provides a separate reform for the entire nautical chain. For example, the list of authority positions will be updated, and there will be a smoother transition from the current staff regulations to the new ones. The old pay scales will also grow proportionately.

"It was not easy, but we are there," said Rutten. "A solid reform of the Flemish personnel statute after years of negotiations. With this agreement, all trade unions have finally stopped their actions. The Flemish economy can breathe again".

"I am particularly pleased that we have reached an agreement on the structural reform of the Flemish personnel statute and that the strikes in and around our port have been stopped today. This will prevent further damage to the economic fabric of Flanders," said Jambon.


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