Traffic chaos expected as civil servants protest in Brussels

Civil servant that work for Belgium’s federal authorities are staging a protest today against proposals to, amongst other things, reform the rules governing their sick pay entitlement. The police say that they expect big disruption on the capital’s roads with a number of road tunnels being closed due to the action.

The civil servants’ main bone of contention are rules that would see them no longer able save 21 sick days and transfer them to their holiday and sick pay on full pay entitlement for the following year. The changes apply to federal civil servants and the “special corps” that include the police, the fire service, military personnel and those working for courts of law.

The demonstration got under way at 10:30am and left from Brussels North Railway Station. The demonstration passes by the offices of the Interior Minister Jan Jambon and the Federal Minister responsible for the civil services Steven Vandeput (both Flemish nationalist). The route of the demonstration passes by the Albert II laan, de Brussels Inner Ring Road between the Rogierplein and the Naamsepoort metro station, the Naamsestraat, the Koningsplein and the Kunstberg.

It is highly likely that the all the tunnels on the Inner Ring Road will be closed during the demonstration. In the East of the city, the Reyers Tunnel and the Jubelpark Tunnel have been closed to traffic since 11am.   

Meanwhile, the Brussels public transport company MIVB reports that around 20 bus and tram routes have even been either diverted or shortened as a result of the demonstration. Metro and mainline rail services are unaffected.  

The demonstration also means that there are fewer police officers available to carry out passport checks at Zaventem Airport near Brussel. Passengers with destinations outside the Schengen Area are advised to go to the airport in plenty of time.

The Walloon public transport company TEC reports that there is some disruption to its services with a reduced bus service in operation in Charleroi, Liège, Mons and La Louvière. The Flemish public transport company De Lijn reports no disruption.