Most SMEs in Wallonia and Brussels cannot afford to pay a 14-euro hourly minimum wage as proposed by the General Federation of Belgian Workers, FGTB, a union representing small and medium-sized enterprises in Belgium said on Monday. “The FGTB is asking for the moon and the stars,” the UCM said. “The current minimum wage is 9.67 euros per hour, so moving up to 14 euros an hour represents an increase of 44.8%,” it added.
“It means moving from a gross salary of 1,589 euros to one of 2,300 euros,” it noted, adding that, when employers’ contributions, the annual 13th month bonus, and vacation allowances are factored in, the additional cost is 18,805 euros per wage-earner each year.
Such an increase would spark a wave of forced dismissals and bankruptcy declarations, “which our economy does not need,” UCM argued.
Increasing the incomes of the lowest-paid workers should be done by reducing taxes. “Employment is created mainly in small companies and they are most sensitive to the issue of labour costs,” noted the organisation, which also represents independent consultants. “An employer cannot spend more than he makes.”