Unions and employers are at the negotiations table, trying to reach an agreement on the 2019 and 2020 margin for wage increase.
The negotiations failed last January because the unions refused that the possible increase is limited at 0.8% (excluding indexation). Since then, the Central Economic Council (CEC) has re-evaluated the margin to 1.1%.
Social partners of the Group of Ten (principle union and employer federation representatives) had an appointment at 9 am this morning in Brussels. This will be their second face-to-face since the 13 February national strike, following which they had agreed to request the CEC to recalculate the margin of increase. Since that date, the CEC issued its report, which set the margin at 1.1% instead of 0.8%, due to the Plan Office’s lower inflation forecasts.
A margin of 1.1% is precisely the standard that had been set for 2017-2018. Unions will say if they are satisfied, perhaps with a series of other measures to increase net wages. But they are not supporters of fringe benefits that are funded at the expense of social security.
For their part, employers are anxious to remain competitive with neighbouring countries.
A 1.1% wage margin would be a good start in negotiations, but it is only one element in the whole file, said Marie- Helene Ska, secretary general of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC), and Robert Vertenueil, president of the General Federation of Belgian Labour (FGTB).
Besides salary increase, other issues will be discussed today, such as the distribution of certain “packages”. The extension of agreements on early retirement or unemployment with company supplement (RCC), minimum wage increase and mobility are also on the agenda. Employers will push to increase workers’ flexibility.