40% of workers are eagerly waiting for January to receive their wage index. But Unizo is now asking to be limited. “Otherwise, it will be a bloodbath.”
In particular, employees working in bakers, shopkeepers and food companies, among others, will not receive their annual wage index until January. As a result of the unprecedentedly high inflation, this implies a large automatic incremental cost of about 8 percent. Workers in neighboring countries can only dream of this.
If it were up to Unizo, the organization for the self-employed and small and medium-sized businesses, this allowance remains a dream. You want to interfere with automatic indexing. “If automatic indexing is implemented, it will be an implementation for many companies,” says CEO Danny van Ash. Bakers, for example, who are already at the mercy of exploding energy prices, will not be able to handle such a large increase in wages. Unizo has already warned that a quarter of small and medium-sized businesses will incur losses this year due to energy costs.
Index interference is sensitive for several reasons. The “remaining group” that has to wait until January does not generally contain the strongest sectors. The majority of employees, including civil servants and those with alternative income, already have multiple indicators. In the banking sector, automatic indexing takes place monthly. This retrospective adjustment is not possible, so some employees may be better off than others. Unless they are deducted from their future indices.
Peter Timmermans, managing director of FEB, who is mainly close to the big (export) firms, has been arguing for months in favor of index intervention. In many of our neighboring countries with which we have to compete, measures are being taken to slow cost increases. The best protection for the purchasing power of employees is the job.
Protect the competitive position
Timmermans warns that focusing on domestic purchasing power is the wrong focus. Belgium has an export-oriented economy. If we don’t allow our companies to compete, many jobs will be lost. Should one turn a wheel before seeing this? It’s frustrating.’ Timmermans compares the current situation to previous major shocks such as the 1973 oil crisis and the financial crisis. Even then, there was no interest in the competitive position, he says.
Van Assche wants to discuss the index debate with social partners this fall. It suggests several variants. Indexing net wages rather than total wages, a social index in which there is only an index up to a certain wage threshold or a system in which sectors can choose not to apply the index. Kind of “withdrawal”.
This is not acceptable to trade unions. Unions want wage law reform because it limits the margin for real wage increases (wage increase at the head of the index) as a result of wage development in neighboring countries.
Addressing the problem from the roots
It’s “not mentioned at all,” says David Vanbellingen, a spokesman for the ACV Christian trade union. “The index is the best way to protect the wages of workers. I am amazed that Unizo is willing to intervene in the index as it will affect the purchasing power of its customers.
ACV believes that it is not appropriate to dispose of a fever thermometer if the patient proves to be ill. This does not solve it. What you need to do is tackle the problem at its root and lower those energy prices.
Then the socialist ABVV spoke of a provocation. “At a time when people are going through tough times and want to hit the pointer even harder, it’s a clear provocation,” spokeswoman Gina Herrmann said. ABVV will hold consultations with its gunmen on September 21. The gap between employers and employees seems very deep which means that in the next stage it could become a matter for the government.
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