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De Lijn drivers to strike on Friday
Commuters using De Lijn should make alternative plans for Friday, as staff of the public transit authority are planning to strike. Very few De Lijn buses and trams in Flanders and Brussels are expected to run.
Unions representing both drivers and administrative staff are planning to take part in the industrial action on Friday, so commuters should also expect little information filtering through about when and where buses and trams will or will not be running.
Unions are protesting at the decision by the board to eliminate nearly 300 management and administrative positions. The figure represents 16% of the total administrative workforce. Although there will be no outright redundancies, people retiring or resigning from their jobs will not be replaced.
“The restructuring is necessary to ensure the future of the company,” said De Lijn CEO Roger Kesteloot. “We are preparing ourselves for possible competition if the market should open up to private concerns in 2020.”
Some politicians are in favour of privatising both De Lijn and NMBS, which would free the government from funding them and allow competition.
According to De Lijn, the strike will start with the first scheduled service on Friday and end with the last scheduled service. Whether night busses that normally run following the final service on Friday will be operational is not clear.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, plans for a Stib public transport strike next Monday, 19 February, are going ahead.
Photo courtesy De Lijn