"I do not enjoy paralysing the economy"

The Flemish employers’ organisation VOKA says that Monday's union strike call in Antwerp and Limburg has met with a mixed response from the workforce, while one leading trades unionist has spoken of his reluctance of calling the strike "a success".

VOKA claims that in Limburg 90% of businesses are working normally and only a quarter of the workforce experienced problems getting to work. Also in Antwerp most SMEs are operating as usual VOKA claims.

VOKA's communications officer Björn Crul insists that the strike is bad news for the economy: "The port of Antwerp and the chemicals industry are experiencing major problems. In Limburg alone economic damage is estimated at 10 million euros. In Antwerp it will be more. Only too hard to judge at the minute."

Employers’ organisation Agoria believes that the industrial unrest this autumn will cost Belgium plc 2 billion euros. That's the total cost of all the strikes and protests scheduled this fall.

Some socialist union sources claim that Monday's strike is "an enormous success", though other trades unionists are more cautious. Rudy De Leeuw: "The protest has turned out well. I wouldn't use the word success. I do not enjoy paralysing the economy. I just feel obliged and we will continue until we get social talks worth that name."