Belgium’s socialist trade union FGTB/ABVV has issued a call to take part in a nationwide demonstration to call for stronger policy on social security.
The union claims that if policy remains unchanged, the social security budget will see a shortfall of €6.4 billion by 2024. “That means that without political will and social measures, our pensions, our health care and our social benefits will be cut and come under severe pressure,” the union said in a statement.
Earlier this week, a delegation of about 100 representatives of the union gathered outside the offices of the national social security agency to press their demands. That was followed by a meeting addressed by university professors from Louvain-la-Neuve and Liege, and a discussion among members. The union has presented a ten-point plan to strengthen the social security safety net, and to make financing of the system more fair. The ten points are:
Guarantee equitable financing, to allow the system a long-term future; Provide state financing that takes account of the extra costs associated with the ageing population; See to it that extra financing covers cuts and removal of social security benefits and deficits created by government decisions; Seek alternative financing for the health care system that keep pace with the needs of the population; Amend the rules on employer contributions to remove the exemption for low social cost jobs such as flexi-jobs; Bring to an end the advantages offered by alternative forms of remuneration intended to avoid social security payments; Reform the special contribution, a portion of the employees contribution that varies according to salary, domestic composition and other factors, turning it into a general contribution that also takes into account income from sources other than salary, such as freelance earnings, rental income and so on; Examine possible tax advantages and reinvest the funds in social security; Abolish banking secrecy and create a register of incomes and; Tackle the problem of social and fiscal fraud by reinforcing inspection services.
The aim of the demonstration is to press home those points on a national scale. According to Miranda Ulens, secretary-general of the FGTB and president of the Flemish wing ABVV, “Enough time has been wasted. Faced with political immobility, someone has to take the initiative.
This year we are celebrating 75 years of social security. Presented with today’s challenges, and the statements and threats of some personalities, the ABVV intends to hammer on the table to make it clear that our social security needs to be strengthened, financed properly and must remain organised on a federal level.”