Deadline tomorrow for emergency plan to prevent business shutdown

Deadline tomorrow for emergency plan to prevent business shutdown
Credit: Belga

Tired of waiting for Belgian trade unions and corporations to come to an agreement about staff shortages caused by the Omicron variant, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo says he will set temporary rules for them if no deal is reached by Friday.

For more than a week, associations representing Belgian employers and employees (known collectively as the Group of Ten) have been in discussion but have made little progress. Employers want more flexibility with overtime as well as the option to recruit temporary workers, students, and pensioners to fill staffing gaps.

But workers unions fear this extreme flexibility will become entrenched in the workplace, threatening employment, Belga News Agency reports.

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The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has seen many sectors struggling with staff shortages as employees stay home because of quarantine rules and school closures.

Workplaces are also considered a significant source of infection, according to a Belgian Government report released January 12. Of the more than 22,000 cases surveyed, 26% of respondents said they were certainly, probably, or possibly infected at work.

After a Wednesday Group of Ten meeting ended without an agreement, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced the Friday deadline, Het Nieuwsblad reports.

If the two sides have not reached an agreement by Friday, De Croo intends to impose temporary rules to alleviate the difficulties. But since the government is reported to believe that the Omicron variant is approaching its peak, there are hopes that firms might not need to resort to the proposed temporary changes.

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