General strike: Belgian unions organise "day of action" on 9 November
Following a call for a general strike by the socialist trade union (ABVV/FGTB), the Christian (ACV/CSC) and liberal (ACLVB/CGSLB) unions announced that they would participate in the national "day of action" on 9 November to demand more purchasing power. a call for a general strike by the socialist trade union (ABVV/FGTB), the Christian (ACV/CSC) and liberal (ACLVB/CGSLB) unions announced that they would participate in the national "day of action" on 9 November to demand more purchasing power.
For the fourth time this year, the trade unions in Belgium are organising a strike action against the cost of living crisis and the federal government's lack of sufficient measures to keep up with inflation.
This time, the unions are not calling for a general strike, but instead for a "national day of action," with different actions across different sectors of the country, instead of one large centralised one, secretary-general Marie-Hélène Ska told Le Soir.
"This will range from strikes where possible and where delegations and activists decide, to awareness-raising actions, such as the distribution of soup kitchens," she said, adding that these various actions will be dictated by the situation in different sectors.
"Teachers see children arriving at school without having enough to eat or returning home in the evening to houses that are not heated, and they are already calling attention to that," Ska said. "At Belgian railway company SNCB, there was just a protest against the budgetary measures that were recently taken."
"In other words, in sectors where we are already mobilising at other times, adding one more strike day becomes difficult," she added. "And in distribution, where wages are not high, losing a day's pay is complicated. Not to mention the situation of certain companies, already in difficulty, and which would suffer from a day of work stoppage."
However, this should not be seen as friction within the union common front, stressed Ska. "The reality is the same at the ABVV/FGTB and the ACLVB/CGSLB, but under different titles: winter will not stop on 20 March," she said, referring to the date when many of the federal government's energy measures will expire.
Still, the unions recognise the difficult situation that many people are in, which is why they are not calling for a general strike in which everyone stops working the entire day.
"We wanted to leave some leeway to sectors and companies that do not necessarily want to strike. Still, there will be a lot of work stoppage that day."
© BELGA PHOTO (NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)