Unions issue threat over social security reforms
23 September 2005, BRUSSELS — Both unions and employers said on Friday they were prepared to discuss the Belgian government's social security reforms, but unions have also warned of strike action if their demands are not met.
23 September 2005
BRUSSELS — Both unions and employers said on Friday they were prepared to discuss the Belgian government's social security reforms, but unions have also warned of strike action if their demands are not met.
The three largest unions ABVV, ACV and ACLVB said they were prepared to enter discussions with the government on 27 September, but have placed several demands on the negotiating table.
If the demands are not met, the unions have threatened to initiate strike action, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Friday.
The unions had to decide on Friday whether they would enter discussions with the federal government. All three of the large unions gave assent, but presented several clear demands.
The ACV said the government's plans were unsatisfactory, while the Liberal ACLVB also warned of strikes if demands were not met, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported.
The Socialist ABVV said it will remain firm on its demand that workers be allowed to take early retirement at the age of 58. If the demand was not met, it said a 24-hour strike would be carried out at the start of October.
Employers groups said they were prepared to enter discussions with the government, but said clarification was needed on several points. They said early retirement needed to be restricted and demanded tax cuts.
The government presented a policy proposal on Wednesday to unions and employers designed to reform then social security system and keep older workers working.
The document was consciously generic in content to allow discussion, but was nonetheless criticised for being too vague.
The government is offering a pension bonus for people who work longer, low labour costs for youths and older workers and alternative forms of financing the social security system.
However, it also emerged on Thursday that the government was planning to raise the age workers can take early retirement from 58 to 60 in 2012.
That was designed as the starting point for discussions, but was not included in the policy document.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news