Belgian police call for national strike over government’s pay deal

Brace yourself for new protests by police in Brussels.

Months after the start of negotiations with the government in a bid to tackle what they describe as low wages and uncertainty over pension schemes, the government on Friday unveiled a new pay-and-conditions package for officers. Some police unions are not impressed and are calling for a national strike on February 15.

In a statement, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said the agreement includes a “substantial improvement of the status of almost 48,000 police officers,” as well as a 5 percent salary increase — the first rise since 2001. She said a yearly budget of €120 million will be allocated to improve policing, saying that investments will be made in infrastructure, equipment and training, and 1,600 new inspectors will be hired. It will enter into force in January 2023.

“We must not only have respect for the police, but also show it,” Verlinden tweeted.

In the eyes of the unions, it is insufficient: Of the four unions taking part in the negotiations, two — the CSC and the CGSP — rejected it. The latter has already announced a strike on February 15.

“The minister of the interior came back to us after many, many twists and turns with a finalized budget of €120 million per year — while we know that for a salary increase worthy of the name and not, I’d say, a tip, we needed €200 million per year,” said Raoul Moulin of the CSC union.

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