Strike in Belgian prisons: guards in Begijnenstraat also stop work (Antwerp)

Strike in Belgian prisons: guards in Begijnenstraat also stop work (Antwerp)
Strike in Belgian prisons: guards in Begijnenstraat also stop work (Antwerp)

An indefinite strike will start in Belgian prisons at 10 pm on Monday evening. The prison guards in Antwerp are also stopping work. The three major prison staff unions called for the strike after consultations with Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt (Open VLD) last week failed.

The unions left the negotiating table when the minister said he would demand minimum services from day one. Van Tigchelt thus started an open war with the staff and the unions, the liberal trade union VSOA said in an open letter on Sunday. Alain Blancke, national delegate of the Christian ACV, confirms that the minimum occupancy procedure is being followed and that people have been requisitioned. This is initially done by the prison management.

READ ALSO. Prisoners on a collision course with the justice minister: prison directors call unannounced action “irresponsible”

For years, the unions have been addressing overcrowding and staff shortages in prisons. The socialist ACOD speaks of “years of poor working conditions and inhumane living conditions”. According to the unions, the minister’s proposed measures were insufficient to tackle overcrowding and aggression problems in Belgian prisons. The unions believe that the situation with the approximately 1,000 internees living in the prisons must be addressed urgently.

READ ALSO. Torture in Antwerp prison started after a fight over some tobacco, victim refused to change cell

On Thursday, April 4, the unions will have another appointment with the cabinet of Minister Van Tigchelt. The unions are therefore working together with the cabinet of Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) on the placement of internees in forensic psychiatric centers (FPC). According to ACV representative Blancke, the action will be evaluated on Wednesday.

Since a detainee was tortured for days in Begijnenstraat almost three weeks ago, Minister Van Tigchelt has been under fire. At the time the violence took place, a strike was also underway.

This time it is not a 24-hour strike. This strike could therefore last more than 48 hours, with minimum services required. Antwerp Provincial Governor Cathy Berx has already requested staff to come to work, so that detainees can still take a walk and take a shower. The question now is whether enough staff will show up to make that possible.

The article is in Dutch


Tags: Strike Belgian prisons guards Begijnenstraat stop work Antwerp


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