18-02-10 Acerta research: 11% of employees escape negative wage index
A study among Acerta Social Secretariat customers shows that only 4% of employees have not applied the negative wage index. However, because it is mainly larger companies who are not applying the measure, 11% of employees have escaped the negative wage index. An important trend is that employers don’t seem to discriminate between white and blue collar workers.
The new year introduced itself with a negative yearly wage index. For a number of important sectors, who only apply the index once a year, the negative wage index implied in decrease in the wages of employees starting January 1st. Amongst others, this was the case for the 300,000 employees who resort under the Extra Joint Committee for White Collar Workers (PC 218.000), hotel and catering industry, agricultural industry, horticulture and the sector for electricians. In the Extra Joint Committee for White Collar Workers this negative inflation would have led to a wage decrease of 0.43% starting January 1st.
Employer organizations make no reservations about applying the negative index. Not applying the interest would after all, result in a wage increase and a worsening of Belgium’s competitive position. Moreover, during the Inter-professional conference at the end of 2008, it was agreed that even in today’s crisis situation, employees could be given a certain wage increase be it in the form of eco-cheques or not. Labour unions did not have any really choice in accepting the application of the negative index. Any other approach would imply that they are questioning the automatic coupling of the index itself and that is definitely something they would want to avoid.
Acerta looked at its own customer base to research the application of the negative wage index. The survey shows that only 4% of employees for whom the negative wage index was applicable, have decided not to apply the index. However, about 11% of employees who should have felt the effects, managed to escape a decrease in their wages. Proportionally more large employers than small employers have not applied the negative index. Among companies with more than 200 employees, we are talking about 18%, in the category 0 tot 50 it is 3% and in the category 50 to 200 employees it is 21%.
A difference can be seen among the different sectors. More white collar worker companies decided not to apply the negative than companies who mainly employ labourers. In general, the negative index was not applied for white collar workers while this was only the case for 5% of labourers. Employers belonging to Joint Committee 218.000 tend to be the most generous towards their employees: no less than 7% of employers here have decided not to apply the negative index. In part this can be explained by the fact that a lot of these companies are real service providers for which human capital is their most important production factor.
Acerta’s data also shows that companies who have decided not to apply the index, don’t discriminate between blue and white collar workers.