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"Annik Dirkx: "Previous strike cost the port several millions"

Port of Antwerp prepares for national strike

On December 15, the large national strike is to take place in Belgium. The entire country is expected to come to a halt for 24 hours, but it's unclear what will happen for each sector. It is expected, however, that employees of the Belgian postal service, the airports, the ports, education, De Lijn and a large number of companies will stop working on the day of the big strike.

One of the Belgian unions in the public sector threatens a general indefinite strike against the austerity plans of the Michel cabinet. The socialist government union ACOD in Belgium filed a strike notice on Monday, because the union is assuming actions will follow the national strike on December 15. The Belgians go on strike for more jobs, a just income, more federal social security, and more fiscal justice.

Port Antwerp
According to Annik Dirkx, spokeswoman for the Port of Antwerp, it's extremely difficult to get an idea of the costs of the previous strike on November 24. "It's about direct costs, but equally about less visible costs that occur further down the chain. All in all, the strike will have cost the port several million Euro. In addition to the financial window, there is also the image aspect: despite the fact that the strike wasn't directed against the port, but against federal government reforms, the port was hit heavily, during times when competition had a strong presence. Fortunately, we always managed to quickly regain the ground we lost due to the strike. In this case, all ships that lay waiting as a result of the strike, were dealt with within 24 hours."

Preparing for Monday

They're well prepared for the December 15 strike. "All port users are making preparations by informing their customers about the strike, and offering them the opportunity to (un)load goods earlier or later, for instance. That means the impact on the day of the strike can be limited, simply because we are able to take measures."
There's a threat of the strike possibly continuing longer. Annik: "Each time, it's about strike days of 24 hours tops. The unions have said they will evaluate after December 15, so we'll have to wait until then to see what will happen after the union protest."
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