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    Only Belgium loses purchasing power

    © Belga
    It seems that there is no increase in purchasing power on the horizon in Belgium.
    © Belga

    Belgium was the only European country where workers lost purchasing power last year. Incomes increased slightly with the Consumer Prices index (CPI) but not sufficiently enough to compensate for inflation. This is per a study by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), published by the Mediahuis newspaper group on Monday. Since 2001, wage increases have been somewhat insignificant in Belgium. This trend is not looking likely to reverse any time soon.

    The study states that the majority of workers saw their purchasing power increase over the past year. In a number of Eastern European countries, this increase was more than 5%.

    It even reached 8.94% in Romania. Our immediate neighbours saw more limited increases. France had an increase of 0.25%, with Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands being 0.42%, 1.61% and 2.28% respectively. Only in Belgium was the purchasing power reduced by some 0.94%.

    Wages have obviously not decreased. However owing to the increase in the CPI and other wage restraint measures, wage increases were very limited. In addition, the ETUI’s Kurt Vandaele stresses that inflation is far higher in Belgium at present than in the other European Union countries.

    In recent years, wage increases have been very limited in Belgium. Mr Vandaele says, “The last significant increase was in 2000. In both previous and subsequent years, wage restraint was the norm.”

    This year, an inter-professional agreement has been concluded between social partners. This is a first since 2008.

    However, wage growth is still likely remain limited to 1.1% for the foreseeable future, excluding both indexation and pay grade scale increases.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times