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New national strike threatin pension reform dispute

Published on 18/10/2005

18 October 2005

BRUSSELS — Union LBC is demanding that trades union federation ACV takes “hard action” against the federal government’s ‘generation pact’.

The demand comes after the LBC — the largest union within the Christian ACV — rejected the government’s move to restrict early retirement.

As various ACV unions discussed the government’s plan in a heated debate on Monday, the LBC urged the ACV to draw up an industrial action plan.

A general ACV meeting is being held on Tuesday, at which point the federation will give its final assessment to the government’s social security and pensions reforms.

However, it is increasingly likely the ACV will resort to strike action, despite the fact it refused to back the national strike staged by Socialist union ABVV several weeks ago.

The LCB is now urging the ACV to take action in co-operation with the ABVV, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.

Unveiling a balanced budget on 11 October, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt also said the minimum early retirement age will be lifted from 58 to 60.

Together with youth employment and worker retention schemes, Verhofstadt dubbed his plan a ‘generation pact’.

Union ABVV has clearly opposed to the plan and the ACV now also appears on the road towards industrial action.

LBC chief Ferre Wyckmans said the union — together with its 400,000 members — wants to stage another national protest later this month. In addition, regional and sector-based protests could also be staged.

It is not yet clear how many regions and ACV-affiliated unions will reject the government’s reforms, but it looms as a tension-filled meeting on Tuesday.

ACV chief Luc Cortebeeck is expected to attract a large amount of criticism for his initial refusal to strike and for the final text of the government’s reforms, reforms he helped negotiate in a bid to soften their impact.

Meanwhile, the ABVV and the Liberal ACLVB will also issue their assessment of the reforms on Tuesday. The ABVV has already said it will support ACV industrial action.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news