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Sharp increase in sick leave among Brussels waste collectors

16:39 06/02/2018

According to a report released by work wellness and safety agency SPMT Arista, sick leave among staff at waste authority Bruxelles-Propreté has increased by a staggering 44% in the last four years. Brussels parliamentarian Arnaud Pinxteren (Ecolo) questioned state secretary Fadila Laanan (PS) about the figures today.

According to the report, the increase is mostly seen among waste collectors, as absences among administrative staff have remained stable since 2014. Union representative Michel Piersoul said that some of the increase had to do with an increase of staff in the period.

Piersoul himself is more concerned about the number of work-related accidents, which have increased by 35% since the reform of the waste pick-up system early last year. Many twice monthly picks-up became weekly, increasing pick-ups for workers. In order to avoid holding up traffic, collections were also started an hour earlier, at 5.30.

The changes were extremely unpopular among waste collectors, leading to a series of strikes last spring. “We’ve just about reached the breaking point,” Piersoul said.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw