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Train guards face rising violence

Published on 18/05/2005

18 May 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium’s railway company SNCB is appealing to politicians and lawyers to help tackle the problem of violence against its staff.

On Wednesday, ‘La Libre Belgique’ reported that the latest figures of attacks against train guards show a slight rise.

The figures, which compared 2004 with 2003, come after a particularly bad spell of violence against SNCB workers.

Last week, five attacks on workers led to a spontaneous strike on 9 May and yesterday morning, workers also disrupted services at some stations after an attack last weekend at Braine-Alleud.

Unions want to see SNCB take more action to protect them, including letting train guards on the riskiest lines work in pairs.

However, a spokesman for SNCB said: “This is a phenomenon of society of which we are victims and which goes beyond the management of SNCB. The management has committed to taking some measures (putting extra security staff on some lines, an information campaign targeting passengers, etc.) to make security better but it can’t do everything. That’s why we’ve asked the world of politics and justice to do their part.”

Aggression against SNCB staff rose by 2 percent between 2003 and 2004. In 2004, there were 652 acts of verbal and physical aggression, compared to 638 the previous year.

However, days off work needed because of aggression actually decreased from 1,460 to 1,012 – down by almost a third (31 percent).

When it comes to violence against train guards, aggression also increased, rising from 556 cases of verbal and physical attacks to 597. Physical attacks climbed to 187 from 171.

Again, though, the days off work needed as a result of the attacks decreased to 928 days from 1,180.

Several days ago, the government announced that judicial penalties would be increased for attacks against public transport workers and postal workers.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news