Belgian train drivers are causing rail delays on purpose. Picture: Richard Walker
Belgian train drivers are causing rail delays on purpose. Picture: Richard Walker

The workers who actually want to get sacked

TRAIN delays are frustrating at the best of times - but finding out they were being caused intentionally would be enough to make any commuter see red.

But that's exactly what has been happening in Belgium recently following a workplace dispute between train drivers and the country's state-owned rail company, SCNB.

Belgian train driver Cédric Grumiaux has recently admitted to reporters he was intentionally delaying trains by driving them at a "snail's pace" - because he actually wants to be fired.

Mr Grumiaux launched what he called "Opération Escargot" in a bid to be sacked from his job after receiving a better offer from a rival company.

However, according to The Telegraph, Mr Grumiaux is not acting alone.

Apparently, up to 70 other drivers within the company are delaying trains on purpose after learning their current contract with SNCB required a one-year notice period.

"We are a group of drivers who have handed in their notice and we are trying to appeal to our management about the one year notice period," Mr Grumiaux told RTL radio.

"We knew very well that by taking this sort of action and that if we spoke to the press as I did, there would be the threat of being sacked.

"That is why I did what I did. There was no other way to put pressure on management."

According to The Guardian, Belgium's train drivers' union has revealed 10 per cent of SCNB drivers have quit the company after the country's rail sector was opened to foreign and private companies which offered drivers more pay and better conditions.

Mr Grumiaux apologised to travellers after admitting he delayed a train bound from Mons to Liège by 38 minutes this week, but said the current rules of his employment were "unfair".

"The safety is respected, we do not bother colleagues, there are people who have arrived late, I apologise for that," he told Belgian broadcaster Bel RTL.

"What happened is that they changed the rules during the game. From one month to one year, it is unfair.

"I understand that I risk a penalty, in theory they can fire me right away, but you will understand that this option does not worry me."

SCNB has hit back at the strategy, with a spokesman saying the drivers were effectively holding passengers hostage.

The spokesman defended the company's controversial one-year notice period, telling The Guardian SCNB train drivers were trained for up to 18 months, so "it makes sense to protect against premature departure".

 

alexis.carey@news.com.au



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