Elections 2024: Politicians promise better wages, tax reforms and more in Labour Day speeches

In their traditional Labour Day speeches, politicians from across the spectrum have unveiled some of their plans ahead of the June elections. Raising wages was high on the agenda.

Vooruit leader Melissa Depraetere gave a speech on Tuesday in which she announced that the socialist party wants to raise the minimum wage by 500 euros. In another speech on 1 May, she said she wants those who start working at 18 to be able to stop working at 60 with a full pension.

Vooruit's French-speaking counterpart, PS, is also making higher wages a priority. Leader Paul Magnette wants to raise the minimum wage by 400 euros and give a further 300 euros to low- and middle-income earners through tax reforms.

"If the others don't want it, they will have to govern without the socialists"

Magnette added that this would be a non-negotiable condition for the party in forming the next government. "If the others don't want it, they will have to govern without the socialists."

Millionaire's tax

The other main left-wing party, the PVDA, wants to introduce a "Canada tax" on profits from the sale of shares by companies. According to leader Raoul Hedebouw, this would raise around 2 billion euros a year. The party also wants to introduce a millionaire's tax for those with over 5 million euros and abolish VAT on food and basic goods.

"It is not normal that the Bel20, Belgium's 20 largest listed companies, paid out almost 10 billion euros in dividends to their shareholders last year, but there was not a single wage increase for their employees," Hedebouw said in his speech on Wednesday. "In large companies and sectors that are making profits, there is room for wage increases."

Wage increase

On the other side of the political spectrum is the far-right Vlaams Belang, which also wants a pay rise to improve purchasing power. The party wants working people in Flaners to receive at least 239 euros more net per month through a tax reform that would increase the tax-free allowance and lower tax brackets.

Leader Tom Van Grieken said in his Labour Day speech that he wants to limit access to social security to those who have been legally resident in Belgium for at least eight years, have worked full-time for three years and speak Dutch at B1 level.

"As if splitting the country would make it stronger. Who believes that?"

On Tuesday, prime minister Alexander De Croo announced his plan to increase pensions for those who work. In his speech on 1 May, he criticised other parties' promises, such as the PS proposal to introduce a 32-hour working week.

He also attacked the right-wing N-VA party for wanting to split up Belgium. "We must not fall into that trap. Walloons and Flemings are not so different," De Croo said. "As if splitting the country would make it stronger. Who believes that?"


#FlandersNewsService | PVDA leader Raoul Hedebouw © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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On Tuesday, Vooruit president Melissa Depraetere announced that she wants to raise the minimum wage in Belgium to 2500 euros per month, an...

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