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National strike: public transport and some services heavily disrupted on Monday

06:24 29/03/2021

Trade unions representing private-sector workers launched a 24-hour nationwide strike late on Sunday evening, with public transportation and businesses most heavily affected.

The "Group of 10" - which brings together management and unions - have been negotiating wages and working conditions in the private sector since January. The strike, which will last from 22.00 on Sunday night until the same time on Monday evening, has been organised to put pressure on the government to increase wages higher than the 0.4% currently on the table.

Trains, trams, buses and the metro will be disrupted. The national rail operator SNCB has been issuing strike warning messages at its stations since Sunday. The company announced that more than half of the trains are expected to run, including Intercity and regional services, but most peak-time trains will not be in operation.

With many schools closed already for the Easter holidays and good weather forecast for Monday, trains services are expecting an influx of people heading to the coast. However, the number of trains provided on these routes will be reduced. The SNCB therefore urges travellers to consider less popular destinations for leisure journeys during the strike to reduce the number of people at stations and on platforms. Travellers are advised to check the SNCB website and its app, as well as the MoveSafe app, before departing.

In Brussels, the Stib has also announced that travellers will face severe disruption and that people should find alternative solutions. There is a fear that the limited number of Stib options available on Monday will be swamped. From 6.00 on Monday, the Stib website and app will be updated regularly. A customer services phone number (070 23 2000) will also be activated so passengers will be able to find the information they need to plan their journey.

Walloon transport company TEC is also expecting major disruptions on its various bus routes throughout Wallonia and has called on travellers to plan alternative travel solutions for Monday. More accurate information on the cancelled routes will be available from 7.00 and will be updated throughout the day. To stay informed, travellers can visit the TEC website or call infoTec in their area.

Passengers planning to use the Flemish De Lijn bus service will also face problems and many of its routes will be affected. Information on affected lines will be updated during the day on the De Lijn website.

In addition to transport services, some businesses are likely to be affected too, with trade union action hitting some branches of supermarket chains Carrefour, Delhaize, Lidl, Match, Colruyt and Mestdagh, as well as some hardware stores.

Some post offices will also be affected and other areas of the service industry, including banks and communications operators, may also see some disruptions.

Depending on the region and municipalities, the impact will vary, but waste collection may not happen on Monday while some nurseries may be closed, as well as some museums. Hospitals will continue to operate at this critical time in the coronavirus crisis, but some symbolic action may take place.

Written by Nick Amies