Postal strike averted
The post office managed to avert a growing mail strike last week by withdrawing its proposals to introduce a new level of postal worker.
Last Friday, mail deliveries in Brussels and Wallonia were disrupted or cancelled as a result of industrial action in protest at the post office’s plans to bring in so-called neighbourhood mailcarriers, who would deliver only normal mail and be paid far less than normal mail-carriers, who would be left to deliver recorded mail, bringing pensions to housebound elderly people and perform other more specialised tasks.
However, postal workers – who have seen their numbers cut and their workloads increase in recent years – regarded the introduction of the neighbourhood mail-carriers as a ploy to hive off much of their work to new low-paid staff, leaving the way clear to cut their numbers.
In Brussels and Wallonia, anger quickly led to industrial action, but unions in Flanders preferred to wait to see what management would do next. In response, the CEO of the post office, Johnny Thijs, backed down from his proposal, although he described the idea as “frozen” rather than “scrapped”. The plan was to have been implemented initially as a pilot project in 28 of the more remote postal centres in the country.
Thijs expressed “understanding” of the unions’ concerns, and called them together for talks, due to take place as Flanders Today went to press.