Expatica news

What’s in the papers, 29 June 2005

Belgacom to launch digital TV

Various newspapers reported that Belgian telecom giant Belgacom is to launch a new digital TV service offering live football from the Belgian premier division as well as films on demand. It aims to take on rival cable TV services available in most Belgian homes. Competitor and near monopolist in Flanders Telenet is also going digital. Brussels cable operators UPC and Coditel also offer customers extra digital channels.

More babies born in Flanders

There were 62,374 babies born in Flanders in 2004, some 2,410 more than in 2003. The 2004 figures represent a 4 percent increase in comparison with last year. Family institute Kind & Gezin refused to speculate about a baby boom, but was optimistic about the figures. The downward trend noted since 1997 appears to have turned around, ‘De Standaard’ reported.

Strike looms over pension plans

Unions have warned of massive industrial action against the government’s employment plans. The nation’s largest union, ACV, is fiercely opposed to the proposals unveiled by Employment Minister Freya van den Bossche, ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported. ACV chairman Luc Cortebeeck also said 13 of the minister’s 63 proposals over pensions, early retirement and collective redundancies are “totally unmentionable”. Union ABVV is also opposed to the measures, but is prepared to discuss the government’s plans.

Vorst jail strike continues

Vorst jail warders have rejected an offer from prison management and the Justice Ministry to end the strike they started on Monday. Unions presented demands to Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx on Wednesday morning, but no breakthrough to the dispute was achieved, ‘Het Gazet van Antwerpen’ reported. Unions are demanding extra staff to alleviate a personnel shortage and the repair of an internal telephone system. They are prepared to strike to the “bitter end”.

Convicted robber escapes

Initially acquitted by a trial court, a man ordered to serve four years in jail for a violent theft on Wednesday escaped from the appeals court in Bergen. The man ran from the court before police could cuff him after his sentence was read out. The two police officers were guarding another suspect at the time and could not prevent the escape, ‘De Morgen’ reported. Police are searching for the escaped man.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news