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Domestic workers protest low wages in service voucher system

20:47 28/11/2019

Brussels’ domestic workers protested today in Brussels, and a few dozen stormed the offices of the Randstad Group, which manages the Service Voucher scheme. The workers staged the protest to demand higher salaries.

Some 145,000 people in Brussels who work as household cleaners and in companies that provide ironing services, have been asking for a raise in their salaries, which are paid through the service voucher scheme.

Consumers buy the service vouchers for €9 each to pay for household help. They give the vouchers directly to the help or to the service. The company that employs the cleaners or ironers receive €23 from the government for every service voucher sold. They then pay the employees’ salaries.

But these salaries are too low, according to unions in the sector, who are demanding a raise of 1.1% for all workers. Workers currently earn €11 per hour, before taxes.

‘They are making a profit’

“Certainly the larger companies have enough margin to provide a raise of 1.1%,” said Pia Stalpaert of the ACV union. “They are making a profit. They are paying out dividends. The other companies can turn to their reserves temporarily. That’s what reserves are for.”

Union representatives held a meeting today with Randstad, which manages the Tempo-Team service checks. “They listened to us and realise that we are at the end of our ropes,” said Stalpaert. “We have a commitment from Randstad that they will defend our position in their consultations with Federgon.”

Federgon is the sector federation for household help. “We will first strive to achieve a sector-wide agreement, Stalpaert explained. “That is our best bet for security. If that doesn’t work, then it’s about going from company to company, and the smaller businesses are simply not going to negotiate with us.”

Photo: Nils Quintelier/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw