Breaking News

In Belgium, the rebels fall into line

Having avoided the pitfall of civil disobedience, the De Croo government is about to suffer a social storm now.



Having avoided the pitfall of civil disobedience, the De Croo government is about to suffer a social storm now.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – The great rebellion did not take place. Contrary to their assertions, restaurateurs and cafetiers who threatened to reopen their terraces on May 1 have kept the doors closed. As for the multiple shows scheduled despite the health ban by the culture sector, they took place (or not) at the discretion of the mayors. Here, the public stayed outside. There he was asked to leave the scene by the police. But there were no slippages.

Two notable exceptions, however. In Middelkerke, mayor Jean-Marie Dedecker had “public terraces” placed on the dike, thus preventing restaurant owners from being sanctioned while allowing tourists to enjoy take-away meals on the seafront.

In Brussels especially, a gathering of young people called the “Boom 2” brought together several hundred people in Bois de la Cambre before being unceremoniously dispersed by the police and their pumper. The intervention made the rounds of the media as it was so spectacular. In the end, a fifteen demonstrators were injured and nearly 130 arrests have been pronounced.

One week before the deconfinement of the Horeca, the De Croo government is scoring points. Pedagogy on the one hand, financial threats on the other, got the better of those who advocated civil disobedience.

Two protesters are surrounded by tear gas during clashes with riot police at the Bois de La Cambre park in Brussels, on May 1, 2021, during the second edition of the illegal ‘La Boum – L’Abime’ festival, a protest against the Covid -19 health restrictions. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)


But it is on another front that the government must now prepare to fight. A home front. May 1 was the occasion of a traditional showdown between several partners of the Vivaldi coalition in power. Pushed by the communist far left, the Socialists have been opposing the liberals for several days on the revaluation of wages and the increase of low incomes. The first highlight the efforts made by a whole section of workers during the covid to demand that they be rewarded. The second plead for “realism” in the midst of a health crisis.

Something unprecedented: the Socialists threaten to block the distribution of dividends to shareholders if their demands are not met. Since 1996, this mechanism has been provided for in a law governing the evolution of wages in the private sector. It sets the terms for calculating the wage margin, but also offers the government the possibility of taking measures to moderate sources of income other than wages, in the name of competitiveness. The income of the liberal professions, social allowances, rents but also dividends are concerned.

Complicated days

The tax burden exerted on Belgians is one of the highest in Europe. But despite the wishes of the left, there is currently no wealth tax. Threatening shareholders not to receive their dividends has the advantage for these parties of targeting the rich, or at least those who make hard cash profits from the capitalist economy.

“Dear Egbert, we have to be consistent. Without margin for a serious corona bonus and in the absence of discussion on the minimum wage, there will also be no margin for dividends and bosses’ salaries ”, launched the Minister of Employment and Socialist Pierre -Yves Dermagne to the President of the Flemish Liberals, Egbert Lachaert. The Belgian Business Federation replies that net dividends were already at a very low level in 2019, before the covid crisis.

The next few days promise to be complicated for the ruling coalition.


Related Articles

Back to top button