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Hospital workers poised for new strike

Published on 04/02/2005

4 February 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgium’s health-care workers are planning to strike Feb. 24 after rejecting the government’s latest offer to ‘revalue’ their salaries, it was reported Friday.

For the past year, hospital and rest-home workers have been staging a number of protests to demand an increase in jobs and salaries.

Feeling very much under pressure, last week the federal government put its latest offer of EUR 375 million on the table as well as salary increases for the lowest-salaried workers.

At the same time, the government also pledged to add 10,000 additional workers in about six years.

But unions criticised the plan as being insufficient, calling into question the feasibility of creating 10,000 new jobs.

In addition, the unions argue that all workers — and not just those on the lowest salaries — are entitled to more money.

At a meeting this Thursday organised by the unions, Employment Minister Freya Van den Bossche and Social Affairs Minister Rudy Demotte said it would be possible to juggle the priorities around.

However, the margin of negotiation remains very right, due to the extreme limitations of the social-health insurance funds.

The government surely remembers that the last social accord negotiated in 2000 ended up costing some BEF 6 million (EUR 148,736) more than initially planned, La Libre Belgique reports.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news