Expatica news

SP.A leader slams union, backs ‘generation pact’

31 October 2005

BRUSSELS — Socialist SP.A leader Johan vande Lanotte has rebuked the Socialist union ABVV and coalition government partner Liberal VLD for spreading incorrect information about the Belgian government’s controversial ‘generation pact’.

The pact is designed to boost retention of older workers and increase youth employment, but Vande Lanotte said the ABVV and VLD have a vested interest to simply promote the idea that workers will only be allowed to take early retirement from the age of 60.

In an interview with weekly Flemish magazine ‘Humo’, Vande Lanotte said he was disturbed by the picture being created that the generation pact only involved lifting the minimum early retirement age.

Instead, he said the pact also contained other important measures, such as investment in youth employment, refinancing of the social security system and job seeking assistance afforded to laid-off workers.
Vande Lanotte said the pact would gradually lift the amount of years workers need to have worked before taking early retirement, rejecting ABVV and VLD claims that the minimum age will be lifted automatically to 60.

He said VLD Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt should have kept silent about this aspect, questioning instead whether it had been a case of Liberal bravado, newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported on Monday.

According to Vande Lanotte, neither the VLD nor ABVV can be objective because they both have vested self-interests in pushing the message that workers may only take early retirement from the age of 60.

The SP.A will now start an information campaign to explain the details of the generation pact, stressing that the Socialist union should not repeat past mistakes.

Vande Lanotte said the pact was necessary; otherwise an entire generation of youths will need to pay for the nation’s pension scheme.

An information brochure is now on the party website and members will also receive an email or printed copy. On 7 November, a special party magazine will focus on the generation pact, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.

“The SP.A wants to make clear that the choice for the generation pact means we don’t want to saddle future generations with problems that we can solve today for everyone with solidarity,” spokeswoman Vivi Lombaerts said.

After Friday’s demonstration in Brussels and national strike, it remains unclear whether the union threat of renewed industrial action in November will pan out.

Nevertheless, the federal government is refusing to amend its plans and as it stands, the nation is no closer to a compromise deal then what it was last week and further strikes cannot be ruled out.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news