Prison officers strike against minimum service obligation

Prison officers at several prisons across Belgium have downed tools in protest at the Justice Minister Koen Geens’ plan to oblige them to provide a minimum service during strikes. The strike has hit prisons across the county with just 11% of prison office having reported for duty at Leuven Prison in Flemish Brabant, a quarter of prison officers working at Sint-Gillis Gaol in Brussels and a picket line having been set up outside Jamioulx prison in Hainaut. 

The unions expressed their discontent yesterday at the plan having been given preliminary approval by the Federal Government on Friday. They said that they would support any action taken by prison officers opposed to the plan.   Although 74% of prison officers at Flemish jails reported for work on Tuesday morning it was a very disparate picture with just 11% reporting for the morning shift at Leuven Jail, 48% working in Merksplas and virtually no one striking a Bruges Prison.

In Wallonia 56% of prison officers reported for work at the start of the morning shift. The prisons at Jamioulx, Leuze-en-Hainaut, Mons (all Hainaut), Nivelles (Walloon Brabant) and Saint-Hubert (Luxembourg province) are the hardest hit by the strike action. There are picket lines outside the prisons at Mons, Jamioulx and Lantin (Liège).  

Although 74% of prison officers at Flemish jails reported for work on Tuesday morning it was a very disparate picture with just 11% reporting for the morning shift at Leuven Jail, 48% working in Merksplas and virtually no one striking a Bruges Prison.

In Wallonia 56% of prison officers reported for work at the start of the morning shift. The prisons at Jamioulx, Leuze-en-Hainaut, Mons (all Hainaut), Nivelles (Walloon Brabant) and Saint-Hubert (Luxembourg province) are the hardest hit by the strike action. There are picket lines outside the prisons at Mons, Jamioulx and Lantin (Liège).  

Justice Minister: "Always said that guaranteed minimum service wouldn’t be a walk in the park”

In a reaction to the strike action the Justice Minister Koen Geens (Flemish Christian democrat) told VRT News that "I have always said that the introduction of a guaranteed minimum service wouldn’t be a walk in the park as it is such a symbolic issue”.

"However, I think that we have struck the right balance i.e. guaranteed minimum service during long periods of strike action, but not during 1-day strikes. At the same time a guarantee has been given that prison office will retain their status as civil servants as they are in a position of authority. It is not something we came up with in the space of a night”.