Give decent wages to those with job and work to those without, Greens say

Give decent wages to those with job and work to those without, Greens say
A national strike in Brussels in May this year. Credit: Belga

The rising cost of energy, groceries and raw materials are weighing heavily on families across Belgium. The green parties argue rewarding those with jobs and creating employment for those who don't is the most sustainable solution.

Households in the country are increasingly facing challenging financial situations, with both the Flemish and Francophone wings of the Green parties arguing for substantial solutions. In light of this growing problem, Minister Petra De Sutter (Groen) and Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) have called on the government to focus on boosting wages via a tax credit and urgently increase employment in the country.

"Our responsibility is two-fold: to allow everyone to live in dignity thanks to a wage boost for low and middle incomes via a tax credit and to create new job opportunities to aim for an 80% employment rate," De Sutter and Gilkinet said in an opinion piece in De Standaard.

They stressed that the increase in income must be concentrated on low and middle incomes to reinforce the effectiveness of the measures and to ensure the households that suffer the most are helped.

Tweet translation: Incomes must rise. Together with Georges Gilkinet, I plead with the government for new measures to improve the purchasing power. In particular, more help must be given to a large group of working people on low to modest wages. 

Updating current measures

The ministers' call comes in light of reports that families in the lower middle class, which are not protected by the social energy tariffs and other measures put in place to help struggling families, risk falling into precariousness.

"It is, therefore, essential to complement this arsenal with additional measures that make a real difference for low and medium salaries."

They argued that lowering the tax credit — essentially meaning people with less income will pay less tax — will help households gain around one shopping trolley worth of money every month. "Those who work should not run the risk of having to go to the food bank, "they concluded.

De Sutter and Gilkinet's call comes ahead of the government's summer agreement, a package of various reforms on matters from pensions to defence, the labour market and purchasing power, of which the latter is the main priority for the greens.

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They stressed that this can be paid for by the government, but that it must make certain choices, such as lowering the budget for defence and by using exceptional profits made by the energy sector due to high gas and electricity prices.

As a result of the current difficulties faced by many households, a national strike will take place on Tuesday to highlight the unions' call for more purchasing power, a boost in recruitment and improvement to pensions, which is expected to cause severe disruption, especially of public transport.

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