On January 28, Tuesday, tens of thousands of workers marched in the Belgian capital, Brussels, as part of a national strike in defense of social security. The march was called by the socialist trade union, General Confederation of Belgian Labor (ABVV/FGTB). The protesters demanded better pay and health coverage from the government.
In their statement ahead of the mobilization, ABVV said that between 2016 and 2018 alone, due to the government’s pro-business policies, the employer contributions to social security were reduced from 32.4% to 25%. The union also demanded the reversal of these trends so as to stabilize the funding of social security.
“There must be a statutory pension at the age of 65, a pension equal to 75% of the average wage instead of 60% and a minimum pension of 1,500 euros/1651 USD net. The pensions have to be increased automatically with the rise in prices,” ABVV demanded.
The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) that has been actively campaigning in the country for a minimum pension of 1,500 euros also joined the protesters and expressed their solidarity. The Workers Party has launched a campaign for a law that stipulates a national minimum pension of EUR 1,500.
Speaking to Peoples Dispatch earlier, Bert De Belder of the Workers’ Party had said, “With the current average pensions ranging from 1,244 euros for men to 989 euros for women, retired workers cannot even afford a retirement home, let alone enjoy their retirement.”
Jonathan Lefevre wrote in Solidaire.org on Tuesday that “the 20,000 people marched in Brussels [sending] a strong signal to politicians busy negotiating behind the scenes: it is on the street that social security has been built, it is on the street that it will be saved. And even reinforced”.
Cadre of the Communist Party of Belgium (PCB/CPB) also expressed solidarity with the mobilization and joined the march in Brussels. Contingents of Greek workers affiliated with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and a delegation from the French trade union, General Confederation of Labor (CGT), also joined the march.
The Workers Party (PTB/PVDA) has also called for a massive ‘March of Anger’ on March 1 in Brussels, protesting the corporate-elite-politicians nexus and the failure of the current coalition government in Belgium in adopting a new worker-friendly industrial policy.