Belgian unions call for bigger wage increases in the private sector

Belgian unions call for bigger wage increases in the private sector
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Demonstrations will be held across Belgium this Thursday as workers call the wage increase being offered by the private sector “unacceptable,” says the CSC (Confédération des Syndicats chrétiens), the largest trade union in Belgium.

Employers want to grant a maximum increase of 0.4% for the private sector for 2021-2022, which the union is calling “crumbs.”

“This doesn’t even amount to a bag of potatoes per month, or even a sandwich, or even a roundtrip bus ticket,” said Jean-Marc Namotte, federal secretary of the CSC for Liège-Verviers-Ostbelgien, according to 7S7.

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The demonstrations planned in protest of the increase will take place mainly in Liège, as well as Eupen and Verviers, which are both also in the province of Liège.

The CSC is calling for wages to be increased on the basis of collective bargaining whenever the situation allows for it, especially when it comes to those earning the lowest wages.

“While some sectors are suffering from the [coronavirus] crisis, others are reaping big profits and can afford to grant a salary increase of more than 0.4%,” said Namotte. “Why should wage increases be limited when dividend and profit growth knows no limits?”

It was a 1996 law - updated in 2017 - that fixed the evolution of wages to a set percentage, according to the union. They say this model is “totally disconnected from reality” now.

In particular, they say this currently proposed increase amounts to only an additional €13 gross per month for the median salary, and an extra €6 a month pre-tax for those earning minimum wage.

“If we increase workers' incomes through the revaluation of gross wages, the whole economy benefits and this also contributes to the financing of social security and our health care system, thanks to contributions paid by employers and workers,” says the union.

Meetings will be held at various public spaces around Liège, including the Espace Tivoli and the Place de l'Opéra.

Helen Lyons

The Brussels Times

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