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    Social agreement reached with service-cheques sector

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    The social partners – employers and unions – have reached an agreement on a pay increase for those working in the service-cheques sector.

    The agreement comes into force immediately, after negotiations that went on for more than a year. The main provision is a pay increase of 0.8% on top of an indexation increase of 2%, backdated to the beginning of the year.

    The sector employs about 140,000 people, and includes all those whose services are eligible to be paid by service cheques – those involved in home help, laundry, cleaning, ironing, meal preparation and aid with mobility. The customer buys the cheques from a government-approved supplier, and uses them to pay the service provider, whose tax and social security contributions are paid.

    The agreement was in fact reached in February, and was due to be signed by the two sides in March, but the federation of service cheque providers backed out.

    The differences have now been settled. Service cheque workers will received an increase of 0.8%, on top of an indexation increase of 2%. The deal also includes a one-off gift cheque worth €20.

    Those workers whose services include ironing at home will be able to claim an additional 10% of their fee for out of pocket expenses, including equipment, electricity and lighting and so on.

    The three unions representing the sector had initially asked for an increase of 1.1%, in line with the demands of public sector employees. Like them, however, the unions had to settle for 0.8%. “It took longer than expected, but the most important thing for these workers is that there is finally an agreement,” the three unions said in a joint communiqué.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times