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New transport strike hits Brussels

Published on 10/11/2004

10 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Brussels’ trams and a third of its buses stayed off the roads on Wednesday morning after a minority of public transport workers rejected a deal thrashed out between their union leaders and management.

On Tuesday, it looked as if Friday’s strike would be called off after STIB bosses and the three unions signed a draft agreement after talks with a mediator.

It seemed as if the concessions won by the union representatives would easily win the vote of the majority of workers.

But, although 90 percent of the Christian CCSP and the Liberal CGSLB unionists voted for the deal on Tuesday night, the Socialist CGSP members voted on block against it.

They are unhappy about the number of extra staff to be hired under the accord.

And socialist unionists picketed at several STIB depots on Wednesday morning, ensuring almost no trams ran and some bus disruption.

STIB’s spokesman Jean-Pierre Alvin said 90 percent of metros were running normally, as well as 70 percent of buses.

“But this situation can change very quickly,” he said.

“The only positive element compared to previous strikes is that the socialist union pickets have not stopped those who want to work,” he added.

Alvin said it was the first time in STIB’s history that a union had rejected a draft deal.

That suggested Wednesday’s strike was due to “a small minority provoking the majority”, he concluded.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news