Photo: MARC HERREMANS – MEDIENHAUS
The Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) has presented the government with a proposal to introduce minimum services – or “continuity of services” as the minister calls it – in De Lijn. The transport company had been given a deadline to work out its own system with the unions, but this was not respected.
De Lijn must work towards a minimum service in the event of a strike, the new Flemish government decided at the beginning. “If there are no results within the six-month period, the government will take the initiative to achieve this goal,” says the coalition agreement. Peeters sent the official letter on January 8th to begin the six month period.
De Lijn then announced that negotiations would not start yet in order not to disturb the peace in the run-up to the social elections. These should have taken place in the spring, but were postponed to November due to the corona crisis. So had the transport company until then.
However, this has not brought any results, says Peeters now. The Flemish government has therefore drawn up a preliminary draft decree itself. The aim is an adapted transport offer in the event of strikes, taking into account the available employees. They must indicate whether or not they will attend 72 hours before a strike starts. De Lijn will then prepare an offer which will be communicated at least 24 hours before the start of the strike. Striking employees who break the rules can be sanctioned.
The system corresponds to the minimum service that has been in force at the NMBS since 2018. “With this regulation it is possible to bring the rights of the travelers with the strike and the labor law in line,” says Peeters.
According to her, the system does not go so far as to impose a real minimum service. After all, employees are not requested.