European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Reforms Watch

Industrial relations in Belgium

  • National trade union confederations
    • ABVV / FGTBGeneral Labour Federation of Belgium
      (Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond / Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique)
    • ACV / CSCConfederation of Christian Trade Unions
      (Algemeen Christelijk Vakverbond / Confédération des Syndicats Chrétiens)
    • ACLVB/ CGSLBGeneral Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium
      (Centrale der Liberale Vakverbonden van België/Centrale Générale des Syndicats Libéraux de Belgique)

The state of labour market reforms

  • Background summary (last update: Dec 2016)
    • Until very recently, Belgium had to some extent escaped the shift towards dismantling of labour law and increase of labour market flexibility. The main reforms of note are the merging of the statuses of manual worker (ouvrier) and non-manual worker (employé) into a ‘single status’, and the adjustments to partial unemployment. The automatic wage indexation system, strongly backed by the trade unions and criticised by the EU and by employers remains in place, although it was called into question and suspended in 2015.However, a major reform aimed at introducing more flexible working time was adopted in 2016. Read more.

The state of pension reforms

  • Background summary (last update: Dec 2016)
    • The pension system, which essentially functions on a pay-as-you-go basis, was left unreformed until relatively recently, with an initial reform in 2011 having been followed by a further reform adopted in 2015. Criticised by international institutions for having an overly generous support system for early retirement, Belgium has now joined other European countries in restricting early retirement and increasing the official retirement age. It should be noted, however, that Belgium’s pension benefits are low in comparison to other countries. Read more.

Strikes: latest developments and data

  • Background summary (last update: Dec 2016)
    • While the right to strike is neither enshrined in the Constitution nor explicitly mentioned by the law, it is nevertheless acknowledged in case-law and exercised on a regular basis, with Belgium having a number of individual days not worked due to industrial action in line with the EU average over the period 2000-2009 ranked among those EU Member States with the most working days lost to industrial action. However, there is strong pressure from employers and the Government for the right to strike to be defined in law. Read more.

Latest EU Commission documents on Belgium

Translations into French and Dutch are also available