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Over 16,000 demonstrate in Brussels for higher wages

BRUSSELS, — An estimated 16,500 people took to the streets in the capital of Belgium on Friday to demand higher wages to cope with rising energy costs.

They also denounced the 1996 Wage Margin Act that establishes a strict procedure to negotiate a maximum average wage increase.

“We must block energy prices and not wages,” Thierry Bodson, president of the General Labor Federation of Belgium (FGTB), said. “Since Europe is not capable of blocking energy prices, it is up to the Belgian level to do it quickly, very quickly.”

For Marie-Helene Ska, secretary general of the CSC trade union, the most important challenge is that of “the basic freedom to negotiate wages, which must be ours.”

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has told Belgium that the 1996 law is contrary to the freedom of negotiation. Over the past two years, the common trade union front (CSC, FGTB, CGSLB) has been fighting against this law without success, Bodson recalled.

According to Michel Cappoen, secretary general of Secta (union of employees, technicians and managers), the measures taken by the government to deal with the rising cost of energy are not sufficient, because they are limited in time. “I think that the government needs to take stronger measures over a much longer period,” he said.

The city’s entire public transport network was severely disrupted as the demonstration in central Brussels led to diversions.

Brussels Airport was calm on Friday morning. However, 60 percent of flights had been canceled in advance.

The common trade union front intends to continue its demonstrations to make itself heard, Bodson said. “Our determination will not stop. The fight will continue in 2023 with further actions planned.” Enditem

Source : China org cn