On June 26, workers at the Socio-professional Integration Centers (CISPs) in Wallonia, Belgium, demonstrated in front of the provincial parliament in the capital city of Namur. The workers protested against the threats made by the Walloon minister for employment, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, to discontinue further subsidization of the CISPs. In the wake of the protests, Jeholet had to retract his remarks.
The CISPs in Wallonia provide training for persons who are unemployed or low-skilled. Earlier, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, who is from the liberal Reformist Movement (MR) party, gave an ultimatum to the CISPs to cooperate with the controversial policies undertaken by Forem, the public service agency for employment and vocational training in Wallonia. According to reports, the government is not willing to include unemployed people in their skill development programs initiated through Forem.
The Brussels Post reported that the minister had been widely accused of blackmailing the CISPs to cooperate with the policies. He threatened the workers that if they did not cooperate, the government would not pay the 2018 subsidy balances and the second advance for the CISPs for the year 2019, which is close to 30 million euros (USD 34 million). According to reports, such a move from the government would have put around 2,000 jobs at risk.
The MPs from the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) expressed solidarity with the protesting workers and appealed to the traditional political parties to renounce the tactic of political sanctioning that would affect the unemployed and low-skilled workers in the country.
PTB MP Germain Mugemangango said that if the CISPs signed a contract of cooperation with Forem, it would intensify the purge of unemployed people from such training programs.