The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB) is calling on the State to review cost-of-living salary allowances to reflect the consumer price index rather than the health index. The call came as a study by the research bureau of the PTB revealed that Belgian workers lost an additional 300 euros in buying power last year on fuel purchases alone,
Since 1994, the Government has based cost-of-living wage adjustments on the health index, which is calculated by using the prices of a range of goods and services that exclude alcohol, tobacco and fuels other than liquefied petroleum gas.
Comparing the evolution of the consumer price index (CPI) and the average health index between October 2017 and October 2018, the research bureau found that the CPI had increased by 2.75%, while the health-index increase was 1.92%, a difference of 0.83%. When alcohol and tobacco are factored in, the difference is just 0.09%. However, gasoline and diesel, which increased by 10.2% and 20.8% respectively during the period under review, added 0.74% to the gap.
Relating this data to a median gross monthly salary of 3,053 euros – based on 2016 figures, the latest available-, the survey concludes that the loss of purchasing power due to what the PTB described as a “manipulated index” was 303.85 euros a year.
For a skilled worker at a port factory grossing 4,550 euros a month and working with only short breaks, including at weekends, the loss rises to 452.84 euros a month, due in part to the lack of public transport.