Friday, January 27, 2012

General Strike Will Affect Freight Deliveries Next Week

Belgium May Come to a Standstill
Shipping News Feature

BELGIUM – The proposed general strike in the country planned for Monday is likely to cause delays for logistics customers with cargo flights cancelled and intermodal services likely to be affected. The stoppage has been timed to coincide with the meeting of EU ministers in Brussels on the 30th January and is a reaction to proposed changes to employment contracts resulting in later retirements for many and reduced benefits.

Belgium needs to make cuts to ensure it stays within the allowed 3% deficit allowable under EU regulations. Commenting on the impending strike, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) general secretary David Cockroft said:

“On Monday in Belgium, transport stops, planes, trains and ports will all be affected. All part of a day of protest by the country’s workers and unions, who are saying no to further cuts being forced through by a government acting dangerously recklessly under pressure to meet EU targets.”

Colleague and ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers section, Paddy Crumlin, added:

“Transport workers are playing a vital part in this strike. Belgium’s docker unions will also be in the frontline, protesting against plans that could strip them of legal protections under the guise of ‘austerity’ and ‘modernisation’.”

Unions have said they will blockade Charleroi Airport and customers on the Eurostar may be forced to utilise a temporary bus service from Lille to the Brussels terminus. Passengers on the high speed train routes between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne (Thalys)have been told there will be no services for 25 hours from Sunday night at 2200 local time.