You are currently viewing Unions still hard to reach, affiliates can’t take it anymore: “Covid has a really good back”

Unions still hard to reach, affiliates can’t take it anymore: “Covid has a really good back”

  • Post category:Economy News
  • Reading time:7 mins read

The unions have been unreachable since the Covid crisis, according to numerous testimonies accumulated by the editorial staff of RTL info. Their affiliates, many of whom complain, are exhausted and feel overwhelmed by the situation.

The testimonies are repeated too often to be isolated cases. The editorial staff of RTL info has received, for several months, numerous messages evoking the impossibility of joining the unions (this is also the case with mutual insurance companies), with the consequences that this generates: delay in the processing of files and payment allowances. We had often obtained rather vague and reassuring answers from the institutions concerned. But faced with the regularity of the messages, we dug to get other answers.

“I have already waited two hours”

We collected the testimony of Maxime (assumed name). He received his unemployment certificate at the end of June 2022. He then decided to make an appointment with his union (CGSLB) in order to regularize his situation, otherwise he will not obtain his benefits. But, problem: impossible to reach the secretariat! Maxime tries by email and by phone but nothing works: No response, nada, nothing! I’ve had to wait two hours before, then they hung up on me“, he testifies. The situation on site, in front of the offices, is even more desperate: “Even arriving before opening time I was the fifteenth person in line (…). I waited from 8 to 11 outside their door This leaves little margin knowing that they only open between 8:30 am and 12 pm. Despite everything, he manages to get an appointment, after more than three hours of waiting.

According to Maxime, the wait is common when you want to make an appointment at a union, but it has never been so long since the Covid. Standing in line for an entire morning had never happened to him. In addition, waiting for hours does not guarantee support. It’s intolerable (…). I saw the distress of some people who were asking for their allowances”, he adds.

“The Covid has a really good back”

Since the health crisis, the unions have, like the majority of companies, introduced teleworking for part of the staff. Hours have been reduced by half (opening only in the morning), telephone numbers and email addresses have been made available to maintain contact with union members. However, the interaction is one-way as it is rare to get feedback from the secretariats.

Maxime is disgusted: In the end they fight for our rights but they don’t respect us. We pay for this service, in addition“, he is indignant. According to him, it was during the health crisis that the follow-up of files deteriorated sharply: They don’t give a damn about us, the Covid has a really good back.

“We hire, we train, then people leave”

The union representative CGSLB (liberal union) does not approve of these remarks. According to him, the long queues mentioned are only exceptional, they are often created at the beginning and end of the month, in the middle there is never this kind of situation. Under cover of anonymity, he dares to go a little further.

There is a fundamental problem with loving this job

The lack of availability granted to union members is due to a lack of qualified personnel: We are facing a labor shortage. We hire, we train, then people leave. He describes this job as particularly arduous: There is a fundamental problem with loving this job.

The representative also insists on the public very fragile from Brussels: We have to deal with many more complicated cases, foreign people who do not understand what the administration is. You have to be able to communicate with these people who don’t always speak French. The time spent per file is more substantial and there are not enough employees to respond to each request.

Teleworking, causing problems?

However, these are not the only (and real) reasons for this shortage of personnel within the CGSLB. The representative admits to us in a nutshell that this deficit stems above all from an ambient jealousy that would push the employees to leave their positions within the union. He explains: You arrive at a job and you realize that it’s hard. You then ask to have telework“, but teleworking is sometimes impossible for functions that require human contact. Internal jealousies then arise between teleworkers and those who must remain face-to-face. There is a difficulty in retaining staff because of this“, he adds.

Maxime, however, remains skeptical: There is surely a lack of personnel, that is clear. But hey, there’s a shortage everywhere and there’s always a way to do your job well.. He adds: When we are in trouble, they are not there to help us. They leave us in our own shit.

We are aware of the problem“, eventually said the union representative timidly.

Same concern elsewhere: Sarah tried everything to contact the CSC

The problem would concern all unions. Sarah, mother of 4 children, lives in Brussels and is unemployed. Affiliated to the CSC, she is unable to join them on Saturday, September 17. “At the beginning of this month of September, I received my unemployment benefit but I notice an error in the payment. So I try to call them but in vain, impossible to contact them by phone (there is their pre-recorded message and then it cuts out). So I decide to send an email but the same, an automatic response is sent, that they will respond within 10 days. But no response. I wanted to make an appointment in person via their site , but no appointment available. I still managed to make a telephone appointment for September 12 at 9 a.m., I also had a reminder of this appointment on September 11 with the list documents to have in possession. But no one contacted me in the end. Making an appointment was useless. I sent them an email again and I also contacted them via the contact form on their site but the same no response!”.

To our colleagues at RTBF, recently, the president of the CSC Brussels-Flemish Brabant alliance admitted the existence of a problem, supposedly limited to new unemployment benefit application files. But Sarah doesn’t fit into that category, and that doesn’t explain why she couldn’t join the union. Like the CGSLB, a lack of staff is mentioned by the CSC in Brussels, but not the problems of teleworking.