The government continues its course of action, attacking the basic democratic rights and life conditions of the working class.

It has been over a year since Belgium entered this new phase, in which the assumption of “the Swedish” (the new ruling coalition), in June 2014, is one essential element for  the Belgian bourgeoisie to deepen the attack on the working class. This government is implementing social and democratic reforms, together with an ideological offensive against “the left” and against “socialism”.

On the other hand, the mobilization of thousands of workers got its expression through numerous demonstrations, including general and regional strikes. This willingness to struggle is permanent, though they have not expanded nationally or got many support from the press, yet. Some of these actions even surpassed the Union leaders’ predictions.

The information from the press and the statements of the government have contributed to the creation of an tense atmosphere. Regarding terrorism, the raids and detentions multiply as an expression  of the social security policy which has show no results so far; no coherent proposal has been made to face the influence of Jihadism among youth and the general population. The only proposal from the government is to invest 400 million euros to strengthen military and police corps, and to reinforce the repression by throwing 2500 policemen onto the streets.

The matter of refugees is treated likewise: the aggressive statements made by the Interior Minister, Jambon, only show the will to expel the asylum-seekers. The coastal police operation illustrates this clearly, as it essentially seeks to criminalize asylum-seekers, and to break the solidarity shown by the population.

The government deepens the attack on our democratic rights by increasing the repression and criminalization, in addition to the attempt of dismantling the right to strike and to take collective action, as we have seen with the police and the bailiffs’ intervention of Belgium Railway National Company’s (NSCB) strike. Meanwhile, it continues to implement a series of reforms in the social economic ground, although these have been less mediatized.

By early 2016, the government has as a priority to implement the agreements of the Group of Ten, preventing the reinsertion of people on sick leave or disability period, as well as attacking the subsidies for part-time workers.

As usual, the government continues gifting the bosses: tax exception for the SMEs and independent bosses who incorporate workers between 2016 and 2020, and an progressive tax reduction for the subsequent years; meanwhile, the press announces 75% of the SMEs in Belgium are in good health. This is just an example of a much wider list.

The fact that the government and the bosses are attacking the workers, their lives and working conditions, is completely normal; workers exploitation is their reason to be. What is shocking is the silence and complicity of our union leaderships. The federal leaders sign agreements quietly, and as if it was not enough, no sector has stood against such agreements.

We are aware of the importance of the struggle and the actions taken at the SNCB, of which we have participated actively, but that must not keep us from organizing a joint response to the governments’ attacks package as a whole.

We must unify the struggles, be them strong or small, as the ones of B-Post [mail service], the prison guards’s struggle, or the GSK [GlaxoSmithKlein, pharmaceutical industry]. We must demand a struggle plan to unify our demands. Social elections of the private sector, and the Congresses and Elections of the public sector, are our opportunity to organize and create a unitary unionism of struggle, to face the bosses and the government.

 

[1] In Le Soir of 23.10.2015, we could already read the government statements about implementing the pack of agreements.

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Translation: Guillermo Zuñiga.

Originally Published in En Lutte n.° 102, February 2016

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