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Insurance unions threaten strike over pay rise

3 May 2005

BRUSSELS – Workers in the insurance sector have threatened to strike for a better pay rise, it emerged on Tuesday.

The news agency Belga reported that the insurance union Setca and the insurance company body Assuralia had met twice to talk about employers grievances.

However, although Assuralia was prepared to keep talking to them about concerns over job security in the industry and the quality of life of workers, it said it was not prepared to negotiate on pay rises.

“If nothing changes, we’ll end up not just with a strike but with a real conflict in the whole insurance sector, maybe even in the whole financial services sector,” warned Jean-Michel Cappoen, general secretary of Setca.

Assuralia’s managing director Michael Baecker said representatives of the insurance companies would be discussing the employee demands with their bosses on Monday.

However, he stressed that workers had received a pay rise of more than 4.5 percent which was the norm negotiated nationally and included indexing and the rise in the cost of living.

He added that he was disappointed that workers were talking of strikes after just two meetings. “We are far from having exhausted all the possibilities of dialogue,” said Baecker.

Cappoen, though, said insurance companies were often inclined to let months drag by.

“The insurance sector is going well, like the whole financial sector,” he said.

“The companies are making more than comfortable profits. We aren’t asking for colossal salary rises, but employees are frustrated and unhappy.”

On Monday, around 500 employees demonstrated in front of the offices of the Federal Employment Service.

Next Monday, unionists and Assuralia are due to meet again to talk about the situation.

Cappoen warned that his members might be joined in industrial action by workers from the banks if agreement wasn’t reached.

“In the banks, the style is different but basically positions are similar,” he said.

 [Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news