Marie-Sol Sebrechts Gillain

Take the bus for free in Bruges as unions stage payment strike

The liberal, Christian and socialist trades unions from the Flemish public transport company De Lijn’s depot in the West Flemish city of Bruges are refusing to accept fares. Passengers taking the bus in and around Bruges on Monday will be able to do so free of charge. The unions are protesting at staff shortages.  

They say that there is a structural shortage of staff at the depot. There is also a shortage of vehicles because busses are unable to be repaired quickly enough when they break down. This results in services being cancelled. Alain Haegeman of the Christian trade union ACV told VRT News that it is the passengers that suffer.   

"This is why we are sparing the passenger today and are implementing a fare payment strike during which all services will run”.      

Passengers are also being given a pamphlet outlining the drivers’ grievances.

Mr Haegeman added that "The problem has been dragging on for some time. We hope that our action will initiate change”.

De Lijn’s Sonja Loos told VRT News that "We are aware that there is disquiet because there is a problem with stocks of spare parts which means that busses can’t be repaired quickly enough”.

Management will meet with union representatives on Wednesday in an effort to resolve the dispute.