Nicolas Maeterlinck

Prison strike: fewer than 50% of Flemish prison officers reported for duty on Tuesday morning

A 48-hour strike by prison officers got under ways in prisons across the country at 10pm on Monday evening. The prison officers have downed tools in protest at further cost cutting by the Prison Service.   

On Tuesday morning the Prison Service reported that only just under half of the uniformed staff that work in the 12 Flemish prisons that had reported for work. The rest have joined the strike. In six jails, including Sint-Gillis in Brussels less than a quarter of prison officers reported for duty.   

Police officers have been drafted in to take over some of the duties normally carried out by the strikers.  The Prison Service’s Kathleen Van De Vijver told the press agency Belga that “There are various prison where fewer than 50% of guards have reported for duty”.  

The disruption is greatest at the prisons in Dendermonde, Oudenaarde (both East Flanders), the jails in Leuven (Flemish Brabant), Hasselt (Limburg) and Sint-Gillis (Brussels).  

At Dendermonde Prison just 12.5% of prison office reported for work on Tuesday morning. This was 14.7% at Leuven-Central, 15.5% at Hasselt, 16.7% at Oudenaarde, 21.1% at Leuven Hulp and 21.8% at Sint-Gillis.   

At the penitentiaries at Antwerp, Beveren, Bruges, Ghent, Merksplas, Turnhout and Wortel between 25% and 50% of prison officers reported for duty at the start of the morning shift.