Belgian health workers' strike forces concessions
Strike action by Belgian health workers has forced the government to increase its funding of the health care sector by €471 million over the next five years.
Two-thirds of the new money will go into funding 10,000 new posts, to reduce stress among employees and improve hospital and care home services. One third will be spent on pay and related improvements.
Health care workers were on strike for 11 days before agreeing a settlement early this month.
On pay and conditions, the agreement provides for one-off payments of between €300 and €500 a year, as well as increased payments for working at night, at weekends and on public holidays.
A new supplementary pension is being established, and health workers near the end of their working life are to get more holiday: an extra five days from the age of 50, 10 days from age 52 and 15 days from 55.
Trade union representation has been improved. Union delegations can now be set up in workplaces with as few as 20 employees.
One of the main unions involved, SETCA, described it as "a good agreement, negotiated with forceps".