Expatica news

Furore over ‘free trains’ plan

15 January 2004

BRUSSELS – Trade unions and some employers have reacted angrily to a government plan that could see many more Belgian commuters benefiting from free train travel.

Under the plan, which was set out by Belgium’s public enterprise minister Johan Vande Lanotte at the weekend, employers would in future foot 80 percent of the cost of their employees’ train tickets and the government would provide the rest.

But while state rail operator SNCB and some of the country’s larger employers seem happy with the plan, smaller businesses and a number of trade unions are less keen.

The sceptical employers say the free travel perk would simply be too expensive for them. The unions meanwhile are worried that workers who benefited from the planned scheme would could lose other workplace advantages.

Many Belgian employees already benefit from subsidised or even free train travel. Some of the country’s larger employers including certain state-backed companies and several banks already pay for 75, 80 or even 100 percent of their employees’ travel costs.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news