Belgian working class fights for fairer contracts and increase in wages

In the attempt to negotiate a new interprofessional agreement (IPA), major trade unions in Belgium organized a national day of action on February 25 demanding a significant increase in wages and an hourly minimum wage of 14 euros (16.91 USD)

February 28, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Mobilization in front of the Belgian National Bank. Photo : FGTB Brussels

On Thursday, February 25, trade unions in Belgium demonstrated raising several demands for the negotiation of a new interprofessional agreement (IPA). Workers called for a higher pay rise than the 0.04% cap stipulated by employers and also for a minimum wage of 14 Euros (16.91 USD) per hour or 2,300 Euros (2777.57 USD) per month. The call for the mobilization was given by trade unions, including the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB/ABVV), General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium (ACLVB) and the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV). The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) expressed solidarity with workers. 

Unions say that the negotiations for a new IPA are not progressing due to the apathy of the employers. Employers are attempting to put a 0.4% cap on wage hike for two years even though there are sectors that have done very well in recent times — even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers have demanded fairer contracts with better wages in the sectors where it is possible. The unions have also demanded that a solidarity fund be established for the realization of 14 Euros per hour minimum wage.

Read | Belgian Workers’ Party proposes ‘millionaire tax’ to help combat COVID-19

The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) initiated a petition demanding a significant increase in wages without any caps. On February 25, the Workers Party said that “on a common front, the unions can’t be more clear: we won’t settle for pittance. A 0.4 percent pay raise? This is disrespectful to workers. [They] deserve better than two extra coffees a month. We want serious IPA negotiations and real increase in wages.”

Earlier, the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) had proposed imposition of Corona Tax on multi-millionaires in the country to maintain income and social security during the COVID-19 crisis.

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