Workers bring Belgium to halt over alleged cap on minimum wage rises Workers bring Belgium to halt over alleged cap on minimum wage rises

Workers bring Belgium to halt over alleged cap on minimum wage rises
19 Feb 2019

Workers from across Belgium brought the country to a standstill last week over claims that the government had placed a cap on minimum wage rises that had led to them losing out on other benefits.

The industrial action was organised by three of the country’s major trade unions – the General Federation of Belgian Labour (ABVV), the Workers Party of Belgium and the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions in Belgium (CGSLB) - which represent about four million people, according to Newsclick

The move resulted in everyone from workers in schools and government offices to employees in the transport and aviation sector taking part in the strike to demand improvements to pay and conditions.

The demands included a meaningful wage increase for all employees, a minimum wage hike to E14 (US$15.85) per hour or E2,300 (US$2,604) per month, reforms to existing wage legislation and permanent contracts of indefinite duration. Unions attested that, since the government introduced minimum wage laws in 2016, the minimum rate had been subject to a 0.8% annual cap on increases.

Left-wing union the General Federation of Belgian Labour (ABVV) said that although there was a “wage margin of 1.8%”, the government’s intervention and the new legislation meant that minimum wage rises had been “meagre”.

Last week’s industrial action was the second large protest in three months. The last one was held on 14 December 2018 and took the form of a 24-hour national strike against budget cuts and regressive changes to working hours.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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Workers from across Belgium brought the country to a standstill last week over claims that the government had placed a cap on minimum wage rises that had led to them losing out on other benefits.

The industrial action was organised by three of the country’s major trade unions – the General Federation of Belgian Labour (ABVV), the Workers Party of Belgium and the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions in Belgium (CGSLB) - which represent about four million people, according to Newsclick

The move resulted in everyone from workers in schools and government offices to employees in the transport and aviation sector taking part in the strike to demand improvements to pay and conditions.

The demands included a meaningful wage increase for all employees, a minimum wage hike to E14 (US$15.85) per hour or E2,300 (US$2,604) per month, reforms to existing wage legislation and permanent contracts of indefinite duration. Unions attested that, since the government introduced minimum wage laws in 2016, the minimum rate had been subject to a 0.8% annual cap on increases.

Left-wing union the General Federation of Belgian Labour (ABVV) said that although there was a “wage margin of 1.8%”, the government’s intervention and the new legislation meant that minimum wage rises had been “meagre”.

Last week’s industrial action was the second large protest in three months. The last one was held on 14 December 2018 and took the form of a 24-hour national strike against budget cuts and regressive changes to working hours.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER STORIES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Malaysia's minimum wage increase

India restores minimum wage increase

Czech Republic boosts minimum wage

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