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putting your job on the line
By Dennis Batchelder 25 June 1999

i've been travelling through belgium and the netherlands since monday, and here's what i've noticed: belgians are willing to put their jobs on the line to stand up for their principles. i've noticed two examples of this:

case one: employees

today we had a meeting at a large bank in brussels. when we got to the building, there were many people standing outside the building. we thought that there was either a fire, or a bomb scare.

when we got inside, we were told that a "strike" was in progress, because the employees were upset about new branches being opened. so did we have our meeting? absolutely - it was a very convenient strike:
1) it was scheduled for one hour only
2) all employees got paid for that one hour
3) no strike is scheduled for the future
4) no pickets, no shouting, no chanting, no blocking the doors
5) lots of coffee

well, ok, maybe the employees didn't really risk their jobs. but look at the this one:

case two: monarchs

the king of belgium is required by the belgian constitution to sign every law that is passed by the parliament, because the parliament is responsible for his behavior.

seven years ago, the belgian parliament passed a law that permitted abortions. when it was presented to king boudin to sign, he refused, because of religious reasons (he was catholic). he was told that he MUST sign the law.

so king boudin did something really interesting; something that endeared him in the hearts of all belgians. he told the parliament that he would no longer be king until the law was rescinded in parliament. this caused such an uproar in the country, and within 24 hours, the law was rescinded, and the belgian monarchy was restored.

putting your job on the line - belgium