20 December 2004
BRUSSELS – Teachers and other state workers in Wallonia will face another lean Christmas, it emerged on Monday.
Teachers have had to wait until January for their December pay cheque since 1995 when then Education Minister Laurette Onkelinx introduced a “one-off” cash flow measure.
By postponing the payment of teachers and other workers from the education sector from late December to early January, Onkelinx eased pressure on the end-of-year coffers for the French-speaking government.
However, teachers have been complaining about the measure ever since, particularly this spring during negotiations with the authorities about the status of their profession.
As a result, the Wallon government did a deal with the banks to use credit this year to pay the 130,000 workers concerned on time.
“The payment of teachers for a month is about EUR 300 million,” said a spokesperson for Education Minister Marie Arena, stating paying the sum earlier to correct the 1995 decision was a “colossal spend”.
However, that deal was scuppered this week by an email from the federal government’s finance minister Didier Reynders.
He had been asked to wave the extra tax that the workers would face for receiving 13 months pay in the financial year 2004, but Reynders said no.
Prosper Boulanger, general secretary for the Christian education union CSC-Enseignement, said without the tax waiver teachers would be hit with an extra EUR 400 to pay to the Belgian state.
“We think being paid on time is a legitimate demand,” he said, adding “we don’t see why that should mean a financial loss for each of the people concerned.”
“We receive numerous complaints from people incapable of paying some bills, because of a shortage of money in their accounts. In those cases, a few days can make the difference.”
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news