Expatica news

Call for longer Belgian work week

28 June 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian workers should be prepared to consider putting in more hours a week if they do not want their jobs to disappear abroad, the country’s main business lobby said on Monday.

According to the federation of Belgian enterprises (FEB), Belgium may soon need to extend its statutory working week from 38 to 40 hours. 

The FEB wants the country’s trade unions to consider the possibility seriously and points to the case of two German factories belonging to the electronics and construction firm Siemens as evidence of the need to look again at the question of working time.

German unions at the two Siemens plants agreed last week to extend the working week at the factories from 35 to 40 hours in order to prevent the firm relocating 2000 jobs to its operations in Hungary.

The two German plants employ 4,500 people.

FEB President Pieter Timmermanns said in an interview with Flemish newspaper De Morgen on Monday that Belgium would soon need to consider similar measures.

At present however Belgian trade unions remain fiercely opposed to any moves to lengthen the statutory working week.

Under Belgium’s current working time rules, anyone working more than 38 hours a week in Belgium should be paid overtime or granted time off in lieu.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news