The “Fight for €14” campaign by Belgium’s socialist trade union, the FGTB for an increase of Belgium’s minimum wage to 14 euros an hour (2,300 euros/month), was debated in Belgium’s federal Parliament on Thursday.
Two bills, from the Socialist party and PTB (Worker’s Party), for a minimum hourly wage of 14 euros are currently being considered in the House Committee. The opinions of the social partners, the National Labour Council and the Central Economic Council are yet to be made.
“Our petition has already collected 70,000 signatures. This strengthens the legitimacy of our request,” FGTB spokesperson Nicolas Depret said.
The FGTB recalls that in Belgium “6% of workers live on less than 1,091 euros net per month,” which means 250,000 are poverty-stricken.
The union wants to be rid of the “false-truths” always tied to this social demand. “Saying that this would undermine the economy is pure invention. On the contrary, a minimum wage of 14 euros/hour would boost both domestic consumption and the economic machine.”
First the law dating from 96 must be reviewed, the FGTB pleads so that negotiations can be done freely, while also urging that all of the agreements with social partners be applied fully. Then, there must be political awareness, and an inter-federal plan to fight against poverty.
In addition to pleading to the politicians, the union wants to send a message to employers to “come back to the table.”
While waiting for the decision on the proposed bills, the union has been pleading for at least a 3.5% increase of the minimum wage since the beginning of the year, to allow Belgians “to breathe.”
The minimum wage is currently set at 9.65 euros/hour or 1,340 euros net per month. This is not enough to meet the expenses of everyday life. “Is it logical to have to choose between health care and proper meals?”the FGTB asked.
“We need a political initiative,” Socialist Party Federal Deputy Marc Goblet said on Thursday.” The FEB (Federation of Belgian Enterprises) is not the Bible, they do not detain the economic truth. The bosses have been well served for five years, now it’s the workers’ turn.”