May Day in Belgium: Union vows to keep defending Belgians' buying power
One of Belgium's main trade union umbrellas, the Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (FGTB), has pledged to keep up the pressure so as to defend Belgians' buying power, ahead of a demonstration on 20 June.
“What workers are speaking to us about is buying power, their increasingly tough month ends,” the head of the socialist federation, Thierry Bodson, said in his 1st of May address at the headquarters of the CGSP Namur.
“This buying power that is constantly being eroded has been a big problem for years,” but today, after two years of a health crisis in which the lowest salaries have suffered particularly, “the cauldron is bubbling in all sectors,” he added.
“On the 13th of May actions will take place in the regions, then we'll keep up the pressure in favour of buying power until the demonstration on 20 June, which I expect to be historic, and from the next day, we'll meet to see what we do at the resumption,” the FGTB leader announced.
A major grouse of the FGTB is the 1966 law that sets salary scales and which, according to the federation, blocks any significant salary increases. “Companies hand out huge dividends to shareholders, but they keep telling us there is nothing to negotiate for the workers. We can no longer accept that,” Thierry Bodson said.
“We can no longer accept this blocking of salaries because they do not wish to review the 1996 law. We shall keep hammering away at this until the next interprofessional agreement,” the FGTB leader added, denouncing “provocation” by employers.
1 May, known as May Day, is an official holiday in 66 countries across the world. May Day originated as an ancient pagan celebration of spring, known as “Beltane”. It took on a different meaning in the 19th century when it became connected to the labour rights movement.
Photo Meeting of far left party PVDA - PTB in Brussels, on the first of May, Labour Day, the International Workers' Day ©Belga Photo Hatim Kaghat