Christian Trade Union threatens legal action against Wage Norm Law

Today is Ascension Thursday, the day on which Christians commemorate the bodily Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. As well as being an important day in the church calendar it is also important to the Christian Labour movement as it then that it commemorates an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on the rights and duties of capital and labour known by its Latin name Rerum Novarum. 

Like members of the socialist labour movement and the wider socialist movement celebrate Labour Day on 1 May, those in the Christian labour movement celebrate Rerum Novarum on Ascension Day.

On the eve of Rerum Novarum, the leader of the Christian Trade Union (ACV) Marc Leemans said in his Rerum Novarum speech that his organisation is considering taking legal action against the Wage Law Norm and the Royal Decree that impose above inflation wage rises of no more than 0.4%. 

Meanwhile, the organisation that groups the various associations that make up the Christian labour movement is demanding that all companies pay a minimum level tax. The leader of the Flemish Christian democrats Joachim Coens has called for Flanders to become a region in which people live longer thanks to a heathier lifestyle. 

Mr Leemans has long claimed that the way in which the maximum level of above inflation wage increases is set contains “fraudulent software”. Here he is drawing a parallel with the software scandal relating to cars’ carbon emissions.  

The Christian Trade Union’s leader claims that the previous Federal Government changed the criteria to favour employers. “As a result of this we are paying 12 billion more out in wage subsidies and tax breaks compared with neighbouring countries. The thermometer that is being used is lying”.

The union also feels that it is unacceptable that the wage norm has become a maximum that may not be exceeded. ACV is in favour of a norm that should serve as a guideline. This would allow employers in sectors that are doing well to increase their employees’ salaries by more.

The negotiations between employers and the unions on the Wage Norm for 2021 failed to reach agreement and the Federal Government imposed a maximum ceiling of 0.4% above inflation for private sector wage rises. The government also has given the possibility for employers in sectors that are doing well to pay out a so-called “corona bonus” of up to 500 euro. 

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