'Let's make Belgium a country without e-commerce,' say socialists

'Let's make Belgium a country without e-commerce,' say socialists
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As the Federal Government prepares to discuss the relaxation of night work in the e-commerce sector, the president of the Francophone socialist PS party Paul Magnette has called for Belgium to get out of e-commerce as much as possible.

In an interview with the Flemish weekly Humo on Monday, Magnette advocated limiting this type of work to certain professions such as the police or hospitals.

"After the nuclear phase-out, it would be desirable to get out of e-commerce," he said. "Let's make Belgium a country without e-commerce, with real shops and lively cities."

The relaxation of e-commerce rules between 20:00 and midnight is one of the stumbling blocks of the labour market reform, a project in the hands of Employment Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne which the Federal Government is expected to revisit this week.

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The liberal parties have been calling for this for a long time, arguing that companies are leaving for neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands, where the rules are already more flexible.

"I think that e-commerce is not progress, but a social and ecological regression," Magnette said. "Why do we accept having workers working at night in packing centres? Because people want to buy 24 hours a day and receive their parcels at home within 24 hours. Can we really not wait two days for a book?"

He also underlined the damage of night work on health, adding that it should be limited to sectors where it is absolutely necessary, "like the police and hospitals."

As to the question of companies setting up their warehouses on the other side of the border, Magnette said he has no problem with this. For him, the main concern is not unemployment, but long-term illness, which is only getting worse in the sector, he stressed.

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