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Half of De Lijn trams and buses out of service due to strike
Due to a strike among De Lijn drivers, about half of the trams and buses across Flanders and Brussels are not operating this morning, while other lines face delays. Passengers are asked to make other arrangements if possible and to check the De Lijn website or app.
Some areas are more affected than others, with two-thirds of services operating in the city of Antwerp and some 80% in West Flanders. In East Flanders, 70% of trams and buses are operating in urban areas such as Ghent and Aalst, while only half are operating outside of cities.
While a De Lijn spokesperson says that it is not known how long the strike will last, there are more drivers showing up for their run now than early this morning. Continued strike action could, however, continue for several days.
De Lijn workers are striking because of dissatisfaction with several aspects of their jobs, including a new model for wages and seniority, a shortage of spare parts for the buses and administrative red tape. Unions have been in talks with management about these issues, but they have not been resolved fast enough to satisfy the workers.
“We are giving these discussions every opportunity and have not walked away from the negotiating table,” says De Lijn general-director Roger Kesteloot. “But the unions continue to engage in destructive behaviour and act out of ill-will.”
Kesteloot says that an agreement was made last week to get assistance from the Flemish government with these matters and that the strike now is “a slap in the face”. It is “a conscious effort to create unnecessary conflict,” he says, “and totally irresponsible towards our customers. This is simply the union flexing its muscles, nothing less and nothing more.”
Photo ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA