Stalemate sparks more hospital strikes
3 March 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgian hospital employees staged another strike on Thursday after government departments locked horns over how to resolve a dispute about working conditions.
A compromise by Health Minister Rudy Demotte on a new employment package for health workers has been vetoed by Budget Minister Johan Vande Lanotte.
Medical unions said they were surprised by the stalemate as they had been awaiting new proposals before deciding whether to continue with this week’s strike action or not.
The CNE and Setca unions say that Demotte’s proposals could diffuse the tensions in the sector, but the finance ministry fears they will be too costly.
Regional and federal politics have also come into play.
The Flemish regional authorities are concerned that federal intervention in the health sector will spark a raft of demands in other sectors, such as teaching, for better working conditions.
The health workers are demanding more concessions on working time for employees nearing the end of their careers and a 13th month salary.
Failure to overcome the government impasse on the dispute, many hospitals went ahead with their planned strike today.
In Brussels, a minimum service only was maintained at the Sainte-Elisabeth, Saint-Michel, Erasme, Cesar de Paepe, Saint-Jean clinics and at the Chirec group at Parc Leopold, Cavell and Basilique.
Industrial action also took place in Wallonia, at Namur’s St Martin institute and Mont-Godinne hospital.
The strikes spread to Dinant, Bouge, Brabant Wallon, Nivelles, Tubize and Braine l’Alleud.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news