Jonas Roosens

National Day of Action in support of spending power

Belgium’s trade unions are staging a National Day of Action to call for action in support of spending power and are protesting against wage restraint imposed by law.

Strike action is underway in some sectors.  No planes are leaving Brussels Airport as a result.  Local transport companies in Flanders (De Lijn) and in Brussels (MIVB) anticipate disruption.

The protest is staged by the Christian, socialist and liberal unions in support of higher pay “because everything is expensive”.

The unions are demanding changes to the wage norm law that imposes wage restraint.  “Otherwise a hot autumn is in store for the country” says the socialist union’s Miranda Ulens.

The unions are pressing for free wage bargaining, which they say isn’t possible at present.  “We want to live, not merely to survive” notes the socialist union’s Thierry Bodson.  He also rejects employer attempts to make changes to the automatic link between increases in prices and wages, the index.

Departing flights have been cancelled at Brussels Airport.  Bus, tram and metro services are being disrupted too.

A union march is being held in Brussels today.  Unions say up to 80,000 people joined the demo that started from the North Station at 11AM. The police put the number at 80,000 and have asked drivers to avoid the inner-city and warn of major disruption.

The leadership of the socialist union ABVV is meeting on 28 June to decide on further protests.

Parliament is staging a hearing on the contested wage norm law the following day.  On the eve of this hearing the socialist union will decide whether or not to launch further actions.

At today’s demo the leader of the Christian union Marc Leemans said a wage norm that allowed 0.0% wage increases during the next two years wouldn’t pass the unions.

This is the route of Monday's demo.

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