Wildcat strikes over new retirement rules
17 October 2005
BRUSSELS – A series of wildcat strikes broke out on Monday over the government’s plans to reform the Belgian social security system.
In the early hours of Monday morning, from 2am to 6am, factory workers stopped work at the Volkswagen plant, in Forest in Brussels.
The FGTB union delegate Hedwin De Clercq said other strikes might follow throughout the day on other shifts.
“People who have worked for 30 or 35 years on a production line are happy to be able to stop their career at 55, as they can do now,” said De Clercq.
“If we have correctly read the plans of the government, the current legislation could be deferred once, but afterwards the workers at this company couldn’t leave earlier than at 58. The problem is that at Volkswagen there aren’t any posts for older workers and manual workers older than 55 normally can no longer work on the production line.”
Unions at other companies also announced strikes, including Caterpillar in Gosselies, which is known for the production of construction and mining machinery.
All the unions at Caterpillar said they were backing a joint 24-hour strike over the reforms.
The Christian union, the CCSP, which represents transport workers, also stated it was planning industrial action. The Walloon CCSP said it had “unanimously rejected the proposals of the government for the end of careers” and branded the policy “a real social regression”.
If the union strikes, services run by De Lijn, STIB, TEC, as well as planes, could all be disrupted.
The industrial action comes after a general strike over the reforms on 7 October.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news