"People who slog it out day in day out want a wage rise"

The socialist trade union has warmed Belgian workers that in the next two years there is hardly any scope for wage increases.  ABVV blames Belgium's increasingly high inflation figure that together with the index mechanism is making Belgian labour more expensive than in neighbouring countries.  The union adds that such a situation is unacceptable and could lead to social unrest.

In the next two months employers and unions will get together to decide how much scope there is for wages to rise in addition to the regular index rises that keep public sector and some private sector wages topped up in line with inflation.  The Central Council for Business is still to publish its report showing how much Belgian wages can rise while keeping our economy competitive with those of our main trading partners.  ABVV has learned that the margin is slim: zero to negative.

To blame is inflation that triggers the index and puts up wages automatically.  For additional rises there is hardly any scope.  The figures are usually confidential but ABVV says it's speaking out now because of the seriousness of the situation. The union insists that blocking wages isn't acceptable and says that families' spending power must be increased.  Pointing to the Hi-Viz protests it warns against social unrest if no increase is awarded.  It calls on employers and the government to ensure this can happen.

These sentiments are shared by the Christian union: "After all the austerity and celebratory reports from government and employers about the booming economy, people who slog it out day in day out want higher wages."

The association of small independent professionals Unizo is not impressed and accuses the unions of scare-mongering.