The unions approve social accord, albeit some reluctantly

The unions approve social accord, albeit some reluctantly

The socialist, Christian, and liberal trade unions have voted to approve the social accord their representatives reached with the employers from the private sector. The accord covers a host of measures, including a significant increase in the level of the minimum wages and a more flexible regime on overtime. While the agreement received the backing of a sizable majority (88%) of delegates from the liberal trade union there was greater reluctance to accept the deal among those that represent members of the socialist and Christian trade unions. A more flexible regime with regard to overtime was the main bone of contention here.  

In the end the Christian trade union ACV voted by 56.68% to accepts the accord. Meanwhile, 49.06% of the votes of members of the socialist trade union ABVV backed the accord with 49.01% rejecting it.

Previously it had received the backing of the small business federation Unizo. The Confederation of Belgian Enterprise VBO will announce its decision on Thursday. However, it is expected that VBO will also approve the measures.

Trade unionists are generally satisfied with the agreement to gradually increase the level of the minimum wage. In addition to this the agreement contains measures that will enable those over 55 to work fewer hours and see some of the income lost compensated by a payment from the State Employment Service RVA.

The minimum age for early retirement will remain at 60. This will also remain the case for those that lose their jobs due to collective dismissal brought on by restructuring.

While the above measures meet with the approval of or are at least accepted by most trade unionists, many of them have issues with measures contained in the accord that relate to overtime.

As part of the agreement companies in all sectors of industry will be able to continue to apply more flexible rules on overtime that came into force as temporary measures during the coronavirus crisis until the end of next year. Some trade unionists see this as tantamount to signing a blank cheque allowing employers to make their members work excessive overtime.

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