On Friday, the three major trade unions in Belgium (ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB) announced that they will hold a rally on Place de la Monnaie in Brussels in September, before organising a general strike in November.
By coordinating their actions throughout the year, the unions intend to continue to put pressure on the government to obtain the revision of the 1996 competition law, which restricts wage increases.
While Belgium has an automatic wage indexation to adapt workers' wages to inflation rates, wages not increase by more than 0.4% in 2021-2022 in addition to that. As the unions are dissatisfied with this development, the autumn rallies will give them a stronger voice on the issue ahead of the next employment agreement in 2023-2024.
Concerned about salaries and rising energy prices
In addition to the 1996 law on wage increases in the private sector, the unions will also use the rallies to denounce the attitude of employers, as they are reluctant to distribute more well-being measures to workers, according to Thierry Bodson, president of the ABVV/FGTB.
These measures include a budget of €700 million to revalue social allowances, among other things. Unions are now calling for the government to take action.
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Rising energy prices are also a big concern. "We are asking the authorities to move much faster in the deployment of additional measures, alongside those such as the oil check," Bodson told RTBF. "These additional measures could be fed by taxing the excess profits generated in the energy sector in particular."
ACV/CSC and ACLVB/CGSLB are expected to announce on Monday if they will take part in the demonstration in Place de la Monnaie in September. The general strike, according to ABVV/FGTB, should be held in the first half of November.