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Unions reject pension reform, strikes loom

Published on 22/11/2005

22 November 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgium’s three main trade union federations rejected the federal government’s ‘generation pact’ on Tuesday, raising the prospect of renewed industrial unrest.  

The Socialist ABVV, Christian ACV and Liberal ACLVB federations each rejected recent amendments the government made to its pension reform package.

The package is designed to boost employment, reform the social security system and increase the retention of older workers by raising the minimum early retirement age.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has adamantly refused to negotiate further, stressing his government’s reforms are vital to the country’s future prosperity.

The ABVV is now considering what action to take, but strikes and mass protests are not unlikely after leader Xavier Verboven said the union will fight the government to the finish.

Despite earlier indications the ACV was not willing for ongoing industrial action, it rejected the government’s amendments later in the day also.

A threatened union split was thus avoided and the ACV is now assessing its options. It is prepared to back joint protests with the ABVV.

The ACLVB was less forthright and will consult with its members after launching an information campaign. Both the ABVV and ACV federations will also stage information campaigns.

Employer associations will pass judgment on the government’s amendments on Thursday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news