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    Unions to demonstrate on Tuesday for fair pensions

    © Belga
    © Belga

    Trade unions are to demonstrate on Tuesday in Brussels in a common front linking three federations to press for “a fair and worthy pension”. They aim to manifest their deep disagreement with measures implemented by the federal government, like the raising of the legal retirement age, and with others planned by the national executive, such as points-based pensions.

    The demonstration, called by the FGTB, CSC and CGSLB – the socialist, Christian and liberal federations respectively, starts at 10.30 a.m. at the Gare du Nord in Brussels. The common trade union front says it wants “a transparent and predictable pension system” and that it opposes the “dismantling of our pensions and the precarity that affects pensioners”.

    The unions aim to use the demonstration to show their disagreement with the reform of the pension system initiated by the federal government. “We wish particularly to make the population aware so that the measures planned by the Government do not pass as easily as those that have already been implemented,” said Nicolas Deprets, press attaché of the secretary-general of the FGTB.

    He denounced a series of drafts tabled by the Government such as the points-based pensions “of which we know nothing except the name”. This system, envisaged by the Federal Minister for Pensions, Daniel

    Bacquelaine, would award citizens points depending on their careers. The points would then be converted into pension. “It’s going to be used as a budget adjustment variable, which is very dangerous,” said the press attaché.

    In a list of arguments drawn up for the demonstration, the CSC charged that “the government is only seeking, through this system, to raise the retirement age to over 67”.

    For its part, the CGSLB deplored the fact that “the Government is acting in its corner whereas we could have been able to achieve more satisfactory results around the negotiating table”.  It added: “Since the Government persists in ignoring our arguments and proposals, we’re going to raise our tone.”

    The demands of the common front include the maintaining of pension rights acquired in the public and private sectors, a pension that enables people to live in dignity, real recognition of the arduousness of professional careers and a revaluation of women’s careers.

    The procession will start off from the Gare du Nord at 11.00 a.m. after speeches by the representatives of each of the three federations. The demonstrators will then follow the classic route up to the Bruxelles-Midi train station. The FGTB expects 30,000 to 50,000 demonstrators. The CSC is hoping for more than 20,000.

    Andy Sanchez
    The Brussels Times