Labour Day: Socialist union demands extra “social levy”

May 1 is Labour Day, the day on which the socialist labour movement celebrates the achievement made and the past and looks forward to the future by tabling suggestions and demands that it believes will help ordinary people improve their standard of living.

The big Labour Day speeches are traditionally held on the evening of 30 April. This year the leaders of the socialist movement assembled in the Voortuit Arts Centre in Ghent, a centre that itself is a monument to the socialist labour movement in the East Flemish city. The leader of the socialist trade union Miranda Ulens called for an extra social levy to be charged in order to ensure the continued viability of our social security system. Paul Callewaert of the socialist health mutual demanded more cash for care facilities such as care homes for the elderly.  

The General Secretary of the socialist trade union Miranda Ulens said that she wants there to be change after 26 May. Improved purchasing power, quality in the workplace and addressing climate issues in a socially-responsibly way form the main planks of Ms Ulens demands.   

“Purchasing power a necessity in order to live a dignified life. If the bills increase and the prices in the shops rise then incomes should follow suit”.

Ms Ulens added that the minimum wage and benefits levels need to be drastically increased.   

Quality at the workplace means “jobs with good contracts, good wages and good working conditions”

As regards measures to combat climate change, the socialist trade union wants them to be sustainable and socially-responsible. “This means quite simply that every idea should be looked at to assess it social consequences. Whether this road charging, being given a car as part of your wage of climate neutral construction.         

In order to pay for all of this the socialist trade union calls for the introduction of an extra General Social Levy “that will provide more funding for the social security system, a sustainable cathedral that ensures purchasing power and ensures certainty”.   

(Social) security was also at the heart the speech made by the leader of the Flemish socialist party John Crombez. Like Mr Crombez, Ms Ulens said that socialists will need to be in positions of power if any of their dreams are to become reality.   

The General Secretary of the socialist health mutual Paul Callewaert decried what he said was the fact that “care had become unaffordable for many”.  

He called for sufficient funding to be made available for care “so that people know what they have to pay and above all that they know that they will be able to afford to pay it. Provide enough funding for hospitals so that supplements can be driven back and preferably no longer need to be charged and invest in mental health care so that thanks to the right care being provided lives are no longer lost”.