National demonstration disrupts Brussels today

As Belgium's main trade unions are organising another national demonstration to call for more purchasing power in the non-profit sector, such as healthcare, a number of traffic disruptions across Brussels Capital-Regions are to be expected today, 31 January.

At least 12,000 demonstrators intend to gather at the Brussels North train station from 10.30 a.m. and make their way to the Brussels Midi/South station around 11 a.m.. Unions are denouncing the fact that employees in essential public sector jobs are being "squeezed like lemons," with no improvement in sight, announced the ACV Puls, ACLVB and BBTK trade unions.

Public sector workers are demonstrating to address staff shortages and high workloads, while also calling for better wages and working conditions. Employees of hospitals, home care, residential care centres and childcare will also strike. Still, the trade unions emphasised that a minimum service will be guaranteed in the healthcare sector, comparable to a Sunday service. The impact will likely be greater in childcare.

Disrupted traffic in Brussels

While the national railway company SNCB is not expecting any demonstration-related delays on its network, traffic will almost certainly be disrupted in and around the city centre during the morning, as the police have warned that traffic jams are to be expected.

The Brussels public transport company STIB employees are not participating in the march, "but people on the bus lines that drive along the route of the demonstration do risk being inconvenienced while it is ongoing," spokesperson An Van hamme told the Brussels Times.

“This Tuesday 31/01, between 09:00 and 13:00, a demonstration will cross Brussels. Traffic jams are to be expected," the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone announced on Twitter. Drivers are advised to avoid Boulevard Roi Albert II, Rogier, Pachéco, the surroundings of the Central station, Boulevard Lemonnier and the Esplanade de l'Europe.

Additionally, as it concerns a national demonstration, other services throughout Belgium are also at risk of being disrupted as unions will march to push the government to invest more in the public and non-profit sector.



National demonstration to demand more measures against the rising cost of living, organized by the three national trade unions, 16 December 2022 in Brussels. © BELGA PHOTO (DIRK WAEM)

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