Biggest police unions strike a deal with government

Following months of negotiation interior minister Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) and the country’s two biggest police trade unions have reached a deal to improve pay and conditions.

Belgium’s 48,000 police officers will benefit from a 5% pay increase.  Lowest earners will be best off. Working conditions and career opportunities too will be improved.  Belgium’s two biggest unions, the liberal VSOA and the independent NSPV are backing the agreement.  The federal government will have to find 120 million euros a year to pay for it.

1,600 extra police officers will be recruited during this parliament. This should help to improve officers' work/life balance and allow more flexible careers. Officers will continue to be able to retire at 58, but the government will encourage officers to stay on after this age.

The Christian and socialist unions are not backing the deal.  The Christian unions feel the deal doesn’t include sufficient benefits for admin staff and promises remain too vague. “Our members feel distrust fuelled by past experience” said one official.  “They want to see something more precise”.

The socialist union is prepared to take strike action and has given notification this could happen as early as 15 February.

Last November and December police officers staged a series of protests in support of their grievances.  Traffic was hit due to checks on entry roads into the capital and on motorway slip roads.  Air passengers too faced extra checks.

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