Because they are “worried about the future of their company”, the unions have submitted a strike notice to Bpost for next Thursday. “It is a means of pressure, but we are not actively calling for people to stop working.”
With an open letter, a protest in front of the Bpost headquarters and also a strike notice, the three unions want to increase the pressure on the management and board of directors of the postal company. “We are concerned about the future,” Geert Cools of the socialist trade union Acod summarizes their motivations.
At the end of last year, the federal government decided to terminate the concession for the distribution of newspapers and magazines in Belgium. As a result, Bpost sees the loss of around 175 million euros per year in government support. The government announced a fiscal support mechanism to compensate for this, but according to Acod “it is not at all clear what that will look like”. “We ask our board of directors to put pressure on the government so that it quickly provides clarity on this,” says Cools.
In any case, the unions are preparing for “a sharp decline in income from the distribution of newspapers and letters”. “We have been asking for a plan of action for a long time, but there is absolutely no plan yet,” says Annick Boon of ACV-Transcom. “How does the board of directors see the future of our company? What is the vision of the management? The employees want to know whether they will still have a full-fledged job tomorrow.”
Bpost confirms that the unions have submitted a strike notice. “We remain in dialogue,” says spokeswoman Fanny Mindombe.
Despite this notice, the impact on the distribution of newspapers, letters and parcels on Thursday will most likely be limited, the unions themselves say. “We are not actively calling for people to stop working,” says Cools. “This is a means of oppression, without the intention of bringing things to a standstill.” Only a small proportion of postal workers will perhaps spontaneously not go to work – more in Wallonia than in Flanders.