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Engie workers suspend strike amid controversy regarding workers fixing their own energy contracts

07:18 04/11/2022

A strike planned by Engie Electrabel workers following 16 dismissals of employees for gross misconduct has been suspended as talks between the union and management progress.

The 16 employees in question were terminated after it was discovered they extended fixed contracts for certain colleagues ahead of the energy crisis, meaning these employees would keep paying a fixed rate even though they should have been moved to a contract that would see the much-higher bills the rest of the country is experiencing.

Consultations between management and unions have calmed tensions for now, meaning the strike has been called off, but the matter is still being decided.

A protest against the employees’ dismissal took place earlier in the week, but Engie held firm that the terminated employees have, among other things, “created fixed contracts with retroactive prices, which is unethical and contrary to the instructions of our company”.

The unions acknowledge that mistakes were made, but said the responsibility for them is shared because Engie's communication was unclear. They also argue that termination is too strong a punishment.

“Management is ready to review the nature of the dismissals, in particular the reason of serious misconduct,” said Union representative Ben Bellekens, meaning these employees may yet keep their jobs.

A spokesperson for Engie confirmed this: “Two options are being considered for each employee concerned: the termination of the contract by mutual agreement, or the allocation of another position accompanied, despite everything, by sanctions.”

RTBF reported earlier that unions were primarily concerned with the lack of consultation that took place before the dismissal of the employees concerned, which was why they had initially planned to strike.

Written by Helen Lyons