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Rubbish collectors go on strike in some parts of Brussels

14:40 04/05/2024

Morning collections of rubbish in some parts of Brussels are disrupted this weekend - and again on Friday 10 May - due to a strike.

The municipalities and districts concerned are Anderlecht, Brussels-City (including Avenue Louise), Laeken, Forest, Ixelles, parts of Jette and Saint-Gilles, according to Bruxelles-Propreté.

Some mechanised container collection rounds are also affected by the strike, but specific collections (glass collection points, bulky items and chemical waste) will go ahead as normal. All regional recycling parks are open as normal.

Bruxelles-Propreté is asking residents to bring any rubbish bags that have not been collected back into their homes and is planning remedial rounds next week depending on the human resources available.

“Bruxelles-Propreté regrets this strike action and apologises to the people of Brussels affected by it,” the agency said.

The reasons for the strike were linked to “fairly standard” discussions between the unions and general management, according to the agency.

“The main point of disagreement concerns surplus leave for 2023 that has not yet been granted because of the fairly high rate of absenteeism we are facing,” explained Carl Dufour, a spokesperson for Bruxelles-Propreté.

“In social consultation, we are trying to strike a balance between carrying out our tasks despite reduced staffing levels, combating this high absenteeism and granting the said leave.”

Those are not the only issues rubbish collectors are facing, either. Employees have been attacked while servicing their route, most recently in Schaerbeek where they have since refused to service the Brabant neighbourhood, near Brussels-North station.

Many workers start at 5.30 in the morning, when there is a higher risk of bad encounters in the neighbourhood.

While talks between the municipality and Bruxelles-Propreté have taken place, these have not yet led to a resumption of collection.

In the meantime, acting mayor Frédéric Nimal (Défi), on the initiative of alderwoman for cleanliness Deborah Lorenzino (Défi), has taken a decision to bring in a private company to take on public space maintenance tasks.

“On behalf of the Schaerbeek municipality, I would like to express my full support to the officers who have been victims of these unacceptable acts,” said Lorenzino.

“Any public servant performing a public service is entitled to respect in the performance of their functions and has the right to perform them in complete safety.”

Written by Helen Lyons