The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) launched a countrywide solidarity initiative on Wednesday, December 2, to support vulnerable sections in the country during the winter amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In the initiative named ‘A united winter’, with the slogan ‘We don’t let anyone down’, more than 300 solidarity actions across Belgium have been compiled on the website www.unhiversolidaire.be, which is accessible to people who want to lend a helping hand to people in need.
Major solidarity actions organized by PTB/PVDA units at different places include the donation of winter clothes for the elderly and poor, arrangement of food for doctors, nurses and other health workers, laptops for youth and students, toys for children, help in residential care centers, disabled people centers and Medicine for the People (MPLP) clinics, Christmas gifts for postal workers, health workers and others, awareness campaign against domestic violence, etc.
Regarding the launch of the campaign, PTB/PVDA spokesperson Raoul Hedebouw stated, “the winter promises to be harsh, but we will not let anyone down. Solidarity is in our DNA. Everywhere, we see poverty increasing. Many people are in a very difficult situation, financially and psychologically. The elderly are particularly affected, but also the young. Loneliness increases too, as does the lack of perspective and inequalities. Faced with this, we could not stand idly by. “
He added that “over 200,000 people rely on food banks to survive, and the number is growing every day, which is not normal in one of the richest European countries.”
The PTB/PVDA has demanded that the authorities structurally tackle the growing inequalities in Belgian society. Hedebouw reiterated the party’s demand to raise the minimum hourly wage to EUR 14.
Earlier, in light of a steep rise in COVID-19 cases and the impact on workers’ livelihoods, the PTB/PVDA had demanded that the government ensure full income for workers in quarantine across the country. It had also proposed an exceptional Corona Tax on the 2% super-rich people in the country in order to maintain income and social security during the pandemic.
By the beginning of November, Belgium had imposed a second round of stricter lockdown restrictions in the wake of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. As of December 6, around 5,89,942 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country, including 17,254 deaths.