Expatica news

2,000 public workers march on Brussels

2 June 2005

BRUSSELS Up to 4,000 public sector workers marched through Brussels on Thursday morning, demanding fairer salaries.

The demonstration was organised by the united union front for public workers in Belgium’s French Community, Wallonia and Brussels.

It took place after unionists walked out of talks on Wednesday evening with the authorities.

“The negotiators from the French Community indicated that they didn’t have any other mandate than the one presented,” CNE unionist Yves Hellendorff told news agency Belga. “It’s a real declaration of war.”

On Thursday, at 8am, around 100 workers demonstrated at the headquarters of Wallonia’s president in Jambes.

Later that morning, seven coach loads of workers left Namur for the united demonstration in Brussels.

While police recorded a total of 2,200 demonstrators, the unionists claimed nearer to 4,000 workers turned out to make their grievances felt.

With marchers thronging the streets of the capital, a number of delegations of unionists were received at the cabinets of several key ministers.

‘Le Soir’ newspaper said little had filtered out about the content of the discussions between the two parties. However, Brussels unionist Cecile Struyve told the paper: “The Brussels government is ready to negotiate but it doesn’t have the means to do so.”

Delegates also marched to the headquarters of the francophone socialist party on Boulevard de l’Empereur.

The workers are complaining that those who work for the French Community are paid between 20 and 25 percent less than their counterparts working for federal or regional institutions, even though all workers need the same qualifications.

“The salary promises signed by the previous government, and confirmed by the new government, have never been kept,” complained Hellendorff.

Unionists have been angered that the French Community has announced that it will be impossible to respect the promises of the federal government within the budget it must approve within less than a week.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news