Home helps on strike

A thousand Belgian household helps have gone on strike. They are demanding a 1.1% pay increase above their rise for inflation.  Talks with employers are getting nowhere.

The household helps, who receive payment via the tax-subsidised system of service cheques, have been unhappy about their wages for some time.  They earn 11.50 euros an hour before tax.  In November they held a demo in Brussels and mediation efforts have failed to book any progress.  The result: the Christian union announced strike action.

Employers aren’t prepared to offer more than a one-off 130 euro bonus to full-time workers.  This works out as a rise of 0.6%.  The unions maintain that big commercial companies possess the margin to offer more.  The employers hope the government can increase the tax subsidy to allow them to offer more. The socialist union that is demonstrating next Monday, but not taking part in the strike, rejects any idea of raising the price of service checks for consumers, who need the cheques to pay for the household helps.