De Lijn drivers to strike on Friday

Summary

Drivers and administrative staff working for Flemish public transport authority De Lijn are going on strike tomorrow, with serious disruption to buses and trams expected

‘Restructuring is necessary’

Commuters using De Lijn should make alternative plans for tomorrow, as staff of the public transit authority are planning to strike. Very few De Lijn buses and trams in Flanders and Brussels are expected to run.

Unions representing both drivers and administrative staff are planning to take part in the industrial action on Friday, so commuters should also expect little information filtering through about when and where buses and trams will or will not be running.

Unions are protesting at the decision by the board to eliminate nearly 300 management and administrative positions. The figure represents 16% of the total administrative workforce. Although there will be no outright redundancies, people retiring or resigning from their jobs will not be replaced.

“The restructuring is necessary to ensure the future of the company,” said De Lijn CEO Roger Kesteloot. “We are preparing ourselves for possible competition if the market should open up to private concerns in 2020.”

Some politicians are in favour of privatising both De Lijn and NMBS, which would free the government from funding them and allow competition.

According to De Lijn, the strike will start with the first scheduled service on Friday and end with the last scheduled service. Whether night busses that normally run following the final service on Friday will be operational is not clear.

Photo courtesy De Lijn

De Lijn

De Lijn is Flanders’ public transportation system for city and regional travel. It operates bus and tram services across Flanders and parts of Brussels.
Belbus - De Lijn offers a taxi-meets-bus service in sparsely populated areas with its Belbus (Call bus). The Belbus only rides when a user requests it.
Kusttram - De Lijn operates the longest tramline in the world on the Belgian coast. Connecting Knokke in the north all the way to De Panne near the French border, the Coast Tram is the staple means of transportation along the coast.
Stakeholders - Three-quarters of Flemish municipalities are De Lijn stakeholders. Their shares don’t have any monetary value but do earn them a vote in the company’s annual general meeting.
1 990

De Lijn founded

93

largest-ever De Lijn investment in million euros

554

million passenger rides in 2012