The unions of the local authorities in Flanders are taking action today in protest against the plans of the Flemish government that should make it easier to fire permanent civil servants. Several hundred militants will gather in Berchem. In addition, day-care centers may also remain closed here and there or household waste collection may be disrupted, but large-scale nuisance is not expected.

    The action is an initiative of the common trade union front (ACV Public Services, ACOD LRB and VSOA-lrb). They are angry about the plans of Minister of the Interior Bart Somers (Open VLD). In those plans, tenured civil servants from local and provincial governments could be dismissed under the same rules as contractual ones. Municipalities would also be given more autonomy in terms of personnel policy, in particular regarding remuneration or leave arrangements.

    The unions fear political arbitrariness and “a race to the bottom”. They also fear that if the provincial governments are abolished, civil servants will find themselves on the street en masse. During the discussion in the Flemish parliament, the trade unions already argued. Today is also a strike day.

    The consequences are not yet completely clear, but will be visible here and there, can be heard in trade union circles. The effect of a strike can be felt immediately, especially in daycare centers or at household waste collection, it is said.

    Even more actions

    In other city departments or provincial administrations, the consequences will be felt mainly behind the scenes. The unions are planning even more actions in the coming months, if the mediation with the Flemish government does not yield any results. This morning there will also be a demonstration at the offices of BluePoint in Berchem (Antwerp). The employers are holding a conference on “local government as an attractive employer”. The common trade union front expects about 500 militants on site.

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