Belgium must stick to earlier position on wages 'to remain credible', business leader says

Belgium must stick to earlier position on wages 'to remain credible', business leader says
Pieter Timmermans of FEB.

The Federal government needs to stick to its earlier position on salaries otherwise wages could “run off the tracks”, according to Pieter Timmermans, head of the Belgian business federation (FEB).

Timmermans did not hide his dissatisfaction with the way wage negotiations have been conducted with the unions when speaking on Sunday on the VRT’s weekly Zevende Dag program.

"The Federal Government should remain faithful to its previous positions if it wishes to remain credible, otherwise, salary increases could get out of hand, which could cause job losses and unemployment," Timmermans said.

Citing a series of figures, he said the low wage-increase margin proposed was justified by the difficulties spawned by the coronavirus pandemic in many sectors of the economy.

Since negotiations between the social partners have collapsed, it is now up to the federal government to decide, he noted.

The Federal Government has said on two occasions in recent months that it would stick to the wage-increase norm of 0.4% while encouraging the granting of exceptional allowances in sectors that have performed well.

Last week, Socialist parties threatened to block the payment of dividends and freeze CEOs’ salaries if workers are limited to the proposed wage-increase norm.

Nathalie Muylle, a Member of the Flemish Parliament, who shared the VRT platform with the FEB boss on Sunday, deplored what she saw as disloyalty by certain members of the multi-party coalition on the issue of wage increases.

In this regard, she pointed to the positions adopted by the Socialist Party and the Vooruit party, but also by Ecolo, who called for a wage review on Saturday.

Muylle said discussions on this issue are ongoing within the government, adding that new constructive initiatives are expected to be taken next week.

The Brussels Times

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