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Pay for essential workers far less than average Belgian salary

15:21 09/09/2020

Carers, cleaners, security and shop assistants – considered "essential workers" under the Covid-19 lockdown, earn much less than private sector employees in Belgium, the country’s statistical office Statbel has announced. Childcare services are the least well paid of all.

Statbel figures compare "essential service" pay – for example of delivery drivers (around €2,526 gross permonth) to the average monthly full-time gross salary (€3,627) received in 2018 by private-sector workers.

Food shop staff are particularly badly remunerated – at around €2,500 gross per month. Food industry workers are slightly better paid – but still earn 20% less than the Belgian average.

Bus and lorry drivers do not fare much better. Salaries come in at less than €3,000 per month – while pilots and airport technicians receive a much healthier €4,687.

Security workers (€3,124), binmen (€2,676) and cleaners (€2,363) are also significantly less well rewarded than private sector staff. And childcare only merits €2,317 gross.

In addition, there are huge gaps in healthcare pay, Statbel makes clear. Highly-qualified pharmacists, dentists and particularly doctors (at €7,091/month one of the best paid in the country) earn top salaries. Nurses take home €3,652 a month – slightly more than the national average. But carers only receive €2,549 – 30% less than the norm.

Statbel says that further education will result in better earning power. Degree-holders make 3% more than the national average – with €3,688/month. And if you have a master’s degree you can expect to receive €5,046 per month – 42% more than the norm.

However, secondary school diploma holders earn 19% less than the Belgian average (€2,889). If you leave secondary school with no certificate, the gap widens to 26% – with a monthly salary of €2,628.

Statbel includes benefits for night or weekend work in its salary calculations, but excludes the "13th month" or "double holiday" payments.

Written by Liz Newmark