The federal government’s select cabinet (kern) will draw up a mediation proposal on private sector wages for the years 2023-2024, according to a meeting organized on Tuesday afternoon with the Group of Ten.
The main consultative body bringing together unions and employers failed to reach an interprofessional agreement. Legally, in such circumstances, the government must regain control. A negotiation will therefore open at this level.
Within the Vivaldi, the members of the heptapartite coalition have already agreed to distribute 100% of the well-being envelope, intended to revalue the lowest allowances. This is estimated at nearly one billion euros per year. They also confirmed the maintenance of the 1996 law on competitiveness and had made it known in a letter sent to the social partners at the end of September.
According to this law, the wage margin is defined on the basis of a report by the Central Council of the Economy comparing the Belgian wage evolution with that of its neighbours. According to this report, hourly labor costs in Belgium will increase by 5.7% more than the average for neighboring countries over the period 2020-2024. There is simply no room for wages to rise on top of inflation.
“The economic situation is going from bad to worse”
The unions have once again recalled all the evil they thought of this law. The FGTB notably issued a press release before the meeting, deeming this law “unfair and obsolete”. The socialist trade union in turn referred to a report by the ILO (International Labor Organisation) published at the end of last week. “In accordance with the recommendation of the ILO, the social interlocutors should themselves determine the contours of wage negotiations. This recommendation will probably be used as case law in other ongoing complaints against the wage standard law,” warns the FGTB .
“The economic situation is going from bad to worse,” said Pieter Timmermans of the FEB (Federation of Belgian Enterprises), who said he was curious to see the government’s proposal. introduction of a “competitiveness package” to improve business competition.
The kern will consider the matter on Friday. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers should determine precisely how the welfare envelope will be spent. Regarding salaries, it was indicated to a good source that the formula of a bonus granted to workers active in sectors having “performed” was among the proposals on the table. This system had already been put in place during the coronavirus crisis.