Potential strike actions at Bpost

Two unions have decided to break off the negotiations with the company’s management, after the talks have failed to resolve the crisis.

Will the social situation poison Bpost, the Belgian service for postal mails? We cannot make any prediction today. But a point is clear so far: both the socialist and the liberal unions, which claim to represent a majority of workers, have stopped talking with the company’s management yesterday.

This situation started last week. Bpost indeed announced last Thursday their aim to make significant changes in the organisation.

It would firstly be about outsourcing the cleaning and collective catering departments as of 2020. The direction also aims to reduce the staff (between 90 and 130 jobs would be cut off), as well as wanting to restructure the call centres and the ‘Job Mobility Centre’ department, which cares about reconversion of employees. As a whole, more than 500 jobs could be threatened by these reforms. The company is also planning to stop collecting the mail on Saturday, which would reduce the working days from 6 to 5 a week.

Although the management told its employees “the measures are not easy to decide”, those reforms have been considered “necessary for the long-term future” of the company. This is not the end of the story.

On Wednesday, while the company published disappointing business results, it indeed announced a wish to adapt its structure and its executive committee. Both the unions mentioned were surprised and confused about these new plans, as they state they have not been consulted in this framework. This is why they have written a letter to the CEO, Koen Van Gerven, to get positive assurances before thinking about additional talks.

In case the situation was not hard enough, it seems oppositions are taking place between the different unions. Both the liberal and socialist ones, which do not call for other strikes, indeed criticise the Christian union, which calls for other negotiations before going on strike again in case they fail.

There is still a lot of confusion going on so hopefully, the upcoming days will help to make the things a bit clearer.