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Disruption expected as unions call national strike on 22 May

14:31 17/05/2023

A national strike in Belgium planned for 22 May is expected to cause major disruption, including on Brussels' public transport network.

The country’s unions have planned a massive demonstration in the capital next Monday and workers at Brussels transport operator Stib are among those taking part.

As a result, “the public transport offer will therefore be limited throughout the day”, the Stib announced.

“During the march’s passage through the capital, certain above-ground lines - bus and tram - will also be affected. Stib therefore advises its travellers to seek alternative public transport solutions for their journeys that day to the extent possible.”

National unions are protesting against "social dumping" - an erosion of workers' rights - and attacks on the right to strike, especially in light of the ongoing battle between the management of supermarket chain Delhaize and its workers, who are opposed to the corporation’s plans to switch stores over to a franchise model.

That plan is a prime example of social dumping, unions say. Social dumping is defined as the practice whereby workers are given pay and/or working and living conditions that are sub-standard compared to those specified by law or collective bargaining agreements.

In the case of Delhaize, the expectation is that once stores are put under the management of private individuals, those managers will lower pay and working conditions.

Unions warn that if unchallenged, this change of economic model will likely spread to other sectors.

Written by Helen Lyons