Funding promise as health workers strike
26 January 2006
BRUSSELS — Most nursing homes and hospitals were operating on a minimum roster on Thursday as staff in the public non-profit sector went out on a 24-hour strike and held a demonstration in Brussels.
Workers are angered by the government’s refusal to honour an agreement over the public funding allocated to the sector.
The director of the social security office OCMW of the Flemish municipalities, Ruth Stokx, could not immediately confirm on Thursday morning the number of workers out on strike.
A spokeswoman for union federation ACV, Kristien Van der Gucht, also lacked official figures, but stressed that nursing homes and hospitals are operating on Sunday rosters.
The cities most affected by the reduced services were Antwerp — where 6,000 to 7,000 health workers are employed in the city’s public hospitals — plus also Ghent and Brussels.
Meanwhile, some 3,500 personnel in the non-profit sector staged a protest in Brussels on Thursday morning.
A delegation of union representatives then met with federal Health Minister Rudy Demotte at about midday to discuss the stand-off.
Demotte later promised to fully carry out the deal reached with the sector, which had set a timeline for various measures to be implemented last year.
He also said the budget allocated to the plan would also be increased from EUR 79 to EUR 96 million.
Signed in March 2005, the deal promised the sector more personnel, wage rises and improved pension schemes.
Some 70,000 to 80,000 people work in the Belgian public non-profit sector.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news