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Binmen consider strike over new rubbish collection plan
Brussels waste collectors are threatening to strike over a newly implemented schedule of bin rounds. Their protests against the reform began back in mid-December.
The reform sees that the collection of blue, yellow and the new orange bags will take place once a week, while the collection of white bags is still carried out twice per week.
Changes to the timetable were set in motion on 2 January, though many residents in the capital are still unaware of the alterations. Unions say Bruxelles-Propreté had not done enough to inform people.
“There were a few hiccups with bags out on the wrong day. The communication was not optimal,” said SLFP union spokesman Michel Piersoul.
Unions also complain of an increased workload. Piersoul told 7sur7 that 93% of waste collectors voted against a possible schedule reform due to the strain that would come with significant schedule changes.
Temporary workers have been hired to help alleviate the heavy workload on Wednesdays, a particularly busy day for waste collection. An evaluation will be made in the next four to six weeks as to whether the extra temporary staff members will need to be made permanent.
Regarding strike action, Piersoul said: “This week will be the first ‘regular’ week after the holidays. We will see how it goes. But as soon as the workers feel that it is necessary to take action, we are ready.”
Fadila Laanan, the Brussels region secretary of state in charge of cleanliness and waste collection, has recognised the “teething problems” of the reform and has pledged to take the “the necessary measures to make life easier for Brussels people without making more work for Bruxelles-Propreté workers.”
Since the amendments to the schedule, there have been mistakes on the part of the waste collection teams. “Our drivers had to learn new routes," Bruxelles-Propreté said. "So it may be that they sometimes forgot part of a road. In this case, simply tell us and we will directly arrange a pickup.”
Residents are being giving a month’s grace period for them to become acclimatised to the new bin days, before they risk a fine.
“Tolerance is required”, said a Bruxelles-Propreté spokesman. "We must give people time to get used to the new schedule. So fines will start in February.”
To find your schedule, check the Bruxelles-Propreté website.