Prime Minister soothes on stage, behind the scenes liberals feel like the big winner, socialists lick the wounds

“We should not see everything in the logic of winners and losers,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo preached in the Chamber. A little false modesty in Rue de la Loi never hurts, because in the corridors the liberals showed themselves to be the big winners of the wage agreement, with the necessary triumphalism. Certainly Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) hardly bothered to hold back, he again attacked Paul Magnette (PS) head-on. But that showy attitude poses dangers.

In the news: A consumption check of 500 euros, under unclear conditions.

The details: Vivaldi survives, but there are some bruises.

  • As predicted, a relieved Prime Minister De Croo appeared in the hemisphere on Thursday. With some pride he defended “his” agreement:
    • “For one it is not enough, too much for others“, He spoke remarkably conciliatory language.
    • So it is one reasonable and balanced agreement. Social consultation can only work if people find each other. ”
    • “Nobody benefits from that parties and social partners with drawn blades face each other. ”
    • “I hear a lot of cries here, but the measures must be doable for those who are struggling ”, he pushed just a little bit towards his coalition partner, the socialists.
    • But there was no real triumphant behavior: “Not everything should be seen in the logica of winners and losers. ”
  • That was on the blue side in the corridors: “There was a lot of criticism about the fact that we are supplying the prime minister. But look now you see the net result“, So it could be noted with Flemish liberals. There the feeling is clear: they have won this round of arm wrestling. Because the wage norm of 0.4 percent, about which they fought so hard, is fully maintained. For the microphones of Villa Politica, Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld) also emphasized this, visibly satisfied with the government deal.
  • The same message on the French-speaking side, even a little brighter, with Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR), who triumphantly tweeted that it was a delight. He then also briefly debated on RTBF with Thierry Bodson, the leader of the FGTB, the socialist trade union in French-speaking Belgium, to turn the knife a little deeper into the red wound.
  • And with the employers’ organizations – the FEB, but also Unizo – nothing but satisfied reactions: There was a general feeling that the government had given them a hefty gift by keeping the door firmly closed for increases in excess of 0.4 percent.

Also noted: Much more of a depressed feeling among the socialists.

  • To begin with, the two major unions, ABVV and ACV, were strongly dismissive. They disagree with the government’s compromise proposal.
  • As a result, enthusiasm did not drip in the House, certainly not with Ahmed Laaouej, the party leader of the PS, who didn’t get over his heart for Prime Minister De Croo to applaud.
  • In the same Chamber, PS Deputy Prime Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne defended the agreement alongside Prime Minister De Croo: ‘We must look at this agreement in its entirety, with all elements that must be performed in good faith. ‘ He mainly talked about the minimum wages, which the PS absolutely wants to see increase substantially. These are mentioned in the government deal, but ultimately it is the social partners who have to decide.
  • Magnette immediately put pressure on this yesterday: “A higher minimum wage is fundamental for the socialists and is an integral part of the mediation proposal. If the employers refuse, there is no agreement for us about anything and wage bargaining will be free. ”
  • Immediately, Bouchez reacted in turn, by immediately replying to Magnette: “Threatening is never a good method, Paul Magnette. The coalition agreement is very clear: the 1996 law, as reformed in 2015, is applied. If everyone sticks to the accords, everything will go well. Stay cool for a serene negotiation. ”
  • In the evening at Terzake, Conner Rousseau, the chairman of Vooruit, also went to defend the agreement. Because the premium is paid in the form of consumption vouchers, hardly any tax is paid on it. This makes it net will have a considerable impactn, so is the argument of the socialists.
  • Rousseau scored last week with his supporters, with strong communication about, among other things, the suspension of the dividends and cashier Debora, “who would not understand if she did not get anything”. Debora became a phenomenon, but yesterday the Vooruit chairman was a bit more difficult.
  • After all, the agreement is one with many loose ends, as everyone had already seen by now: minimum wages are one thing that has not already been arranged. But the question of which companies exactly the premium comes in has also not been clarified. Even the issue of whether this is regulated at a sector or company level remained open. In other words, vulnerable communication on the left.

The big picture: The center-right Michel I government was denounced on the left. But what about now?

  • The whole issue of the wage bill explains one particularly sensitive area, especially for the PS. During the years of the Michel government – which they labeled as “particularly right-wing” – he opposed the amendments to the 1996 law and the government in general.
  • Not a week could pass before Marc Leemans, the ACV boss, came to report how “anti-social” that team was. The ABVV, and certainly the FGTB wing, just wanted that government “to strike“. Social tension rose to unprecedented levels.
  • With the PS opting for Vivaldi, a “Historical correction” come. Also within CD&V, ACV and ACW pushed that it was a pleasure to get Vivaldi after all. But now it turns out to be a painful awakening: once again, both major unions, without social peace, are facing the government. Only this time there are greens and socialists in it.
  • They received enormous criticism in the Chamber from the far left, the PVDA-PTB, via Raoul Hedebouw.
    • “This is not at all reconciliation. One only needs once to see who is satisfied and who is not.
    • “A premium here, a consumer vouchers there… I am addressing the left-wing parties: you have to go with it cease to defend this agreement. ”
    • “You can also see that the employers and the liberals are satisfied and the union representatives and the workers are not? ”
  • It is not entirely surprising that the socialists eventually “lose” the battle: during the government negotiations in the late summer they had strategically already blown back over the law of ’96, which regulates wages. At that time it was already a huge symbol file, on which the liberals could maintain the status quo: the law would not be amended.
  • Only, the way the socialists are losing now, or in danger of losing if, among other things, minimum wages do not rise spectacularly, does not bode well. This applies to social peace and the upcoming round of minimum wage negotiations between employers and unions. But it is especially important for the broader picture.
  • The determination to later on in the larger files – in particular that of pensions and that of tax reform – scoring has only gotten bigger on the left side of the government. Because if the move to the left, with some big trophies, cannot be realized in this Vivaldi squad, compared to that previous, “anti-social coalition”, what good is the government, for say the PS?

Remarkable: Theo Francken (N-VA) is not allowed to join the Commission for a year and loses 20 percent of his salary.

  • A sanction that looks particularly severe, which has the well-known member of parliament Theo Francken on his leg. Because the House is not in the habit of quickly calling back or punishing its own members: the After all, opposition must be able to do its job and any party can end up there sooner or later.
  • However, that does not seem to be the reasoning of President Éliane Tillieux (PS), who still stands not exactly as a great champion of parliamentary democracy since she wielded the gavel.
  • In the “Francken case” the perception for the PS is quite disappointing. After all, it was Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder (PS), who found it necessary to attack Francken on the fact that it had tweeted sensitive information from the “Commission for the Follow-up of Foreign Missions”.
  • That committee meets behind closed doors and is confidential. But in March Francken leaked that Belgium would not participate in a French military operation in Mali. No world news and not a real military secret either: that we would not participate was already more widely known. On the other hand: it is not necessary to so ostentatiously breaking the rules, if confidentiality exists.
  • But it got the stick to hit Francken with. His relationship with Dedonder has been difficult for some time: the minister does not deal smoothly with the critical attitude of the N-VA employee and has reacted quite tightly before.
  • The majority now decided to accept Dedonder’s demarche, supported by Tillieux, to sanction Francken for the tweet: lost part of his wages, but above all, no more access to the commission.

Also noted: The public prosecutor’s office is involved in Sint-Truiden with the Heeren case.

  • Veerle Heeren (CD&V) will remain mayor of Sint-Truiden until further notice. After all, she refuses to resign, even though its credibility was particularly badly affected after she arranged vaccines for herself, her sister, her son, her neighbors, her spokesperson, some employees and her hairdresser, for the people who were entitled to them according to the rules.
  • First she refused to answer critical questions for months and intimidated the local journalist who released the file.
  • Now the dish seems to take it a step further. For Heeren filed a complaint against those who allegedly leaked her “medical data”: it was only when black-on-white appeared in the press that Heeren had received her vaccine, that she felt it necessary, under heavy pressure, to admit that she had done so effectively.
  • The public prosecutor’s office came suddenly, three days after the complaint, with a site visit to the vaccination center. According to Het Belang Van Limburg also asked the local journalist who got the ball rolling, some questions through the parquet.
  • That attitude seems very special: is it the mayor who made a mistake and inappropriately abused her power to allow frequent vaccine fraud? or should a search for the whistleblowers be organized?
  • In any case: on Monday the municipal council in Sint-Truiden will deliberate on the fate of the mayor. It is not clear whether she can stay on.

This too: Plexiglass creates tension.

  • Should the catering industry open tomorrow with plexiglass between tables, or everything at 1.5 meters. A difficult uncertainty has arisen about this.
  • Because suddenly the federal government announces that the latter scenario applies. That provides the hospitality industry with one very pick up concern: they started from plexiglass walls.
  • But the government wants to come up with a new KB. This morning, Deputy Prime Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld) talked about a “technicality”. But his natural supporters, the catering operators, react very angry. Lobby man Matthias Decaluwé already called for the case to be recalled, which the federal government does not want.
  • It is striking that the mayor of Ghent Mathias De Clercq (Open Vld) was also involved in the debate: “This is not serious. Both the catering industry and the city services have moved heaven and earth to organize everything in accordance with the protocols received late. Getting this on your plate a day before the opening of the terraces is incomprehensible. Very difficult to work like that ”, he tweeted. Ghent is certainly not going to enforce the rule.
  • And also the Leuven mayor Mohamed Ridouani (Forward) joins the resistance: “The catering industry in Leuven has made a great effort to start up in accordance with the rules. Protocols were late and there is still no MB. Now plexi screens are not allowed anyway. We will not enforce this immediately, we will remain pragmatic and will give the catering industry time to comply. ” That immediately means a heavy blow to the federal government and its credibility in this approach.


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