“No further talks” on margin for above-inflation pay rises

Talks between the employers’ federations and the trade unions on the margin for pay rises above the rate of inflation now appears to have broken down for good. On Monday the socialist trade union ABVV and the Belgian Enterprise Federation (VBO) let it be known that the talks had reached stalemate. Now the Christian trade union ACV appears to have pulled the pull on the talks. Bones of contention include the margin of 0.4% above inflation for wage increase and the payment of so-called “corona bonusses”. 

Every two years the employers’ federations and the unions get around the table to discuss how much wages in the private sector should be allowed to increase. The collective bargaining processes should work within the constraints of the “Wage Law”. Under the constraints of the Wage Law, above inflation increases should not exceed 0.4% per annum during the next two years. The unions feel that this is “hugely insufficient”. 

On Monday evening ABVV and VBO said that the talks have reached an impasse. The employers were prepared to approve a one-off bonus for the employees of companies that had performed well during the coronavirus pandemic. However, agreement could not be reached on how much this should be and which and how many companies should pay out the bonus to their employees. There were also big differences on the level of the minimum wage and measures for employees nearing the end of their working lives.

On Monday ABVV left the door open to for a continuation of the talks on Wednesday. However, now the Christian trade union ACV has pulled the plug.

It is expected that as no agreement has been reached the Federal Government will impose the 0.4% above inflation limit as determined by the Wage Law. The actual increase that working people will get will be determined by collective bargaining at an industry level. Anything above 0.4% will have to payed out in the form of bonusses or perks. 

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