Belgium is on general strike.
The mass walkout in the public sector today – followed 90% according unions’ assessment at midday – is over Government plans to cut pensions, part of a Euros 11.3 billion cuts package for 2012 to meet the deficit straightjacket imposed by Eurozone rules.
The unions dismiss claims that the country’s pension system is unaffordable, instead showing that pension costs will fall as proportion of GDP over the next few 50 odd years.
The FTGB trade union confederation says that instead of making ordinary people “pay for the mistakes of bankers,” bonuses for traders and dividends for shareholders should be cut.
Crisis caused by favouring capital over labour
The root cause of today’s financial and economic crisis is successive Govermments’ decision to favour capital over labour, the union argues.
Over the past 30 years, wages have fallen as a proportion of the nation’s wealth by 10 percentage points, and this wealth has been distributed to shareholders, who have in turn have engaged in ‘financial speculation.”
This redistribution of wealth from working people amounts to around Euros 34 billion in 2010 alone, money that has been taken out of the real economy, hitting growth and government tax revenues.
“For thirty years the extreme wealth of some has been built on the impoverishment of the large majority of the population,” says the union. “We won’t get out of this crisis by a further [regressive] redistribution of the wealth.”
In early December, unions organised tens of thousands to turn out in demonstrations in Brussels against Government austerity measures, which include cuts to unemployment benefits.
Euronews on pensions strike