The three unions at De Lijn have submitted a notice of strike before May 18, the day the schools reopen. The reason is a dispute over the protective covers that would be installed on all buses to shut off the drivers of travelers. The drivers were already seated pre-corona on the trams in an enclosed space. De Lijn ordered protective covers with zippers from a German company for the approximately 3,000 buses, but Germany is now reporting that nothing will follow after an initial delivery of 1,000 covers. “Any bus that is not equipped with the right protection will not leave on May 18,” said Rita Coeck of the socialist union ACOD.
‘We have an emergency solution with plastic film and chain that is already equipped with 80 percent of the buses. The rest will follow in the coming days. I therefore consider Rita Coeck’s accusation of amateurism as a gross disrespect for all our colleagues who have worked hard to find solutions for the protection of drivers and travelers, “said Director General Roger Kesteloot.
On Thursday there is a new social meeting at De Lijn. According to Rita Coeck, there is no plan at management level to absorb the rising passenger numbers. “As far as we are concerned, it can only be admitted safely if a maximum of 10 people per bus. What’s the use of being super strict in the schools if you first stack the kids on buses. ”
“Protecting travelers and drivers is our top priority,” says De Lijn. “We have followed all government guidelines since the outbreak of the corona crisis, and have always consulted with the unions. For example, it has been impossible to pay with cash on our vehicles for some time, only boarding at the back is still possible (front door remains closed), there is a limitation of the number of travelers on one vehicle in function of social distancing, there is a procedure whereby the police are called in, etc. Our drivers and staff on the site are provided with masks in a timely manner. ‘
We have an emergency solution with plastic film and chain with which 80 percent of the buses are already equipped.