Report by KEC correspondent
We in India are aware of how all round attacks are being launched on the working class and people by the government at the behest of the big capitalists. It is no different in other countries. Monopoly corporations all over the world are adept at using every crisis as an opportunity to make sky-high profits. After exploiting the pandemic crisis to the maximum, now they are cashing in on the war in Ukraine.
Large Belgian companies in the oil and energy sector are using the war to the hilt to make super profits. In the year starting on April 2021, the cost of electricity had gone up by 49.7 per cent, of natural gas up by 139.5 per cent, of fuel oil up by 57.8 per cent, diesel up by 33.5 per cent and gasoline up by 21 per cent. In this period, the wage increase was only 0.4 per cent, which is practically nothing. In June 2022, inflation in Belgium was about 9%, which is a record for the past 40 years. Is it surprising that working class families find it difficult now to take care of their necessities?
Workers of Belgium brought the country to a grinding halt on June 20, 2022, by the strike organised by the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB), the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC) and the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium (CGSLB). More than 80,000 workers participated in the demonstration in the capital, Brussels. Similar actions had been organised throughout that country in February, April and May.
The Belgian workers are demanding the abolition of the ceiling on wage growth. While there is no legal limit on the profits of companies, the growth of wages in Belgium is limited by the 1996 Wage Standard Act. Using a logic that can make sense only to capitalists, the ruling class is trying to justify this Act by saying that it is necessary to keep the wages in Belgium comparable to those in other European countries. It is using the lower wages countries of Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to depress the wages of Belgian workers.
This again shows that the interests of the capitalists and those of the workers can never be reconciled, because they are diametrically opposite, as is their logic. The working class would use the higher wages in one country to ask for higher wages in all!
Their slogan “Freeze Prices, Not Wages” resounded through Belgium and strikes a chord with workers everywhere. They are also demanding reduced energy prices, an increase in the minimum wage and an increase in employers’ contributions to workers’ travel costs.
Besides being the capital of Belgium, Brussels is also the head quarters of Eurpean Union (EU) and of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Despite the barrage of propaganda by the media justifying their actions, many workers there denounced the US-led NATO alliance and its role in the war in Ukraine and the EU sanctions against Russia. They denounced the massive increase of arms sales to Ukraine which leads to super profits for the armaments industry. They demanded that the government stop spending on war and start investing in the well-being of the working people!”. They held the aggressive policies of the western imperialist powers led by the US towards Russia, as directly responsible for the current price-rise.
“Money for Wages, Not for War!” “Stop NATO!” These slogans captured the sentiments of the Belgian working class.
We support the struggle of the Belgian workers! Workers of the world, unite!”