An image from last December's national day of action
Expect disruption in downtown Brussels this morning
Thousands of workers are expected to join
today’s national demonstration in protest against work pressure and staff
shortages in the care, well-being and culture sectors. Unions believe at least 12,000 protesters
will join the protest. Union demands include
better pay and working conditions.
Brussels police and the local transport company expect serious
disruption to traffic, especially along the route from the North to the South railway
Today’s demonstration follows a day of
protest organised to protest conditions in the non-profit sector, in hospitals,
care homes, youth centres and child care, last December. The demo starts from the North Station at
The unions want Belgium’s various governments
to take immediate action. “Work pressure
is increasing. We notice the shortages
everywhere” says socialist trades unionist Jan-Piet Bauwens.
Christian trade unionist Mark Selleslach: “Care
workers often have to halt admissions and can’t use hospital beds because of
staff shortages. We can’t wait till next
year’s elections and any protracted coalition talks. It’s irresponsible to get the sector to wait
any longer. We wanted to dispatch a signal
that we are in crisis”.
“I’m protesting out of solidarity with
colleagues” says Sanne Thyrion, a union rep working in a care home for people
with mental disabilities. “I’ve got a
lot of friends working in care homes and they are inundated by work”.
“It’s a vicious circle: as a result of the
meagre means more and more people are leaving or falling ill and that only
increases the work pressure on colleagues.
As a result the job is no longer attractive and vacancies don’t get
filled. At present there are some 7,000
vacancies in the care sector. You notice
it everywhere: we all know somebody who needs care”.
Mark Selleslach: “There’s no intention to
disrupt work in the care sector. There
is a minimum service that resembles the situation on Sundays. We don’t want to
create any disruption for people who need are”.
The demo is expected to cause considerable
disruption this morning for people out and about in the centre of
Brussels. Police have issued a warning with
regard to disruption. Refuse collections too will probably be disrupted.
Local transport company MIVB expects
disruption to hit bus services in particular, especially in downtown Brussels
and along the demo route. Rail services should not be affected.