Antwerp bus drivers down tools after colleague is kicked

There is considerable disruption to bus services in Antwerp Province as around 50 bus drivers stage a strike after one of their colleagues was assaulted by a passenger. The driver was attacked at a bus stop on the Sint-Jansplein after he had spoken to the passenger about his behavior on the bus.   

De Lijn’s Tom Van de Vreken told VRT News that "A passenger got on the bus and wanted to open a can of drink on board. The driver spoke to him about it (eating and drinking is not allowed on busses and trams). The man became verbally aggressive before kicking the driver who fell and was injured”.

Around 50 drivers are striking and 13 bus routes are impacted by the action. Bus services from Antwerp to destinations in the north of Antwerp Province are especially badly hit by the action.   

"There is a lot of disruption. We are currently talking to the unions and we will let you know as soon as the drivers resume work”.  

“The drivers feel abandoned”

The unions say that this is far from the first incident of aggression against bus drivers in Antwerp”.

Geert Vermunicht of the socialist trade union ACOD told VRT News that “The drivers are being given less support in the field. They feel abandoned”.  

"We are confronted with aggression on a daily basis. This is also due to staff shortages. If two busses are cancelled and you are driving the next bus then you bare the burnt. This was one incident of aggression too many”.     

De Lijn will meet with hold talks with unions on Monday during a meeting of the so-called “aggression commission”.

Only busses that operate between Antwerp and destinations outside the Antwerp urban area are being impacted by the strikes. Tram services and bus services operated by sub-contractors are operating as normal.