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Unions reject pension pact, plan national strike

18 October 2005

BRUSSELS — Trade union federation ACV rejected the Belgian government’s ‘generation pact’ on Tuesday, bringing the nation a step closer to a nationwide demonstration and strike.

The decision was made at a general meeting of ACV affiliated unions despite the federation’s refusal to back the national strike staged by Socialist union ABVV on 7 October.

An action plan will now be drawn up for a demonstration to be held by the end of this month, supported by strike action. The demonstration is expected to be held on 28 October.

A definite date for the strike will be decided in talks between the Christian ACV and the Socialist federation ABVV, newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported.

The ABVV will also decide its position on Tuesday, but is widely expected to reject the generation pact, having strongly cristised earlier.

Liberal union ACLVB also rejected the government’s generation pact on Tuesday. Chairman Guy Haaze said it was urging joint union industrial action.

Unions are angered by the Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s plan to lift the early retirement age from 58 to 60 in a bid to retain older workers and offset the affects of the aging population. The plan also involved employment schemes.

The government remains committed to the pact and has warned it will implement the measures with or without union support.

Meanwhile, employers association VBO and Unizo said they regretted the fact unions had rejected the generation pact. Both organisations strongly urged the government against bowing to union pressure.

VBO said the union response was short-sighted and that the generation pact was an important step to reduce youth unemployment, create more active older workers and reduce burdens on the social security system. It urged unions to show responsibility and opt against striking.

The same message was given by Unizo, which represents small and medium-sized businesses. “Union actions that cost companies and thus the social security of the next generation are unacceptable,” it said.

Both the VBO and Unizo warned they will use every legal means at their disposal to prevent the strike.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news