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National strike in Belgium

Shipping and transport in Belgium, along with public life in general, was seriously affected on Wednesday 13 February by a one-day national strike organised by the country’s three main trade unions

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The strike called by ABVV, ACV and ACLVB started on Tuesday 12 February 22.00 hrs. CET. Many seagoing vessels have been unable to enter or leave the ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Ghent, whilst pickets are barring landside activity in the ports and throughout the country. Brussels Airport has come to a standstill. We have no information about the status of inland ports such as Brussels or Liège.

 

The unions called for the strike to enforce a higher pay rise in the collective labour agreements, as Belgium’s employers stick to the 0.8% that is being advised by the central employers’ council de Centrale Raad voor het Bedrijfsleven (CRB). The CRB and individual employers refer to the country’s Salaries Law which provides the basis to invoke the 0.8% cap. The unions therefore are also calling upon the Belgian government to revise this so-called Loonwet.

 

Prime Minister Charles Michel noted that the contested 0.8% for 2019 and 2020 comes on top of the automatic inflation correction, which leads to an effective 4.6% pay rise in 2019.

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