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Soldiers look forward to first pay rise in 18 years

Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder (PS). © Laurie Dieffembacq for Belga

The defence ministry, military leaders and unions representing the troops have agreed on a plan to give military personnel the first pay rise they have enjoyed for 18 years, De Morgen reports.

The agreement was reached on the basis that the armed forces need to recruit some 10,000 new recruits over the next four years. The reason is twofold: military pay is too low to compete with private sector employment, so young people look elsewhere. At the same time, experienced staff are retiring in large numbers, while mid-career soldiers find they can make more money in jobs outside the forces.

According to a study carried out by Deloitte for the defence ministry, an ordinary soldier earns €331 less per month than a police recruit. Compared to a private security agent, the difference is €600 a month.

Now the three parties involved in discussions have agreed to bring military pay into line with the police. That will cost the ministry €150 million between now and 2024. That means an increase over the course of four years of 15% for soldiers up to non-commissioned officers (NCOs). Officers will receive between 7.5% and 14.5% more.

Military pay is largely dependent on length of service as well as rank. The increase for an ordinary soldier will come out between €35 and €250 a month after deductions, on top of a salary that ranges between €1,600 and €1,957.

NCOs will receive an increase of between €20 and €400, while officers receive between €45 and €465 a month extra.

The defence ministry will not comment on the plans, explaining that the proposal still has to go before parliament for approval. It is not expected to meet any obstacles there.