BELGIUM - Belgium's recent national wage negotiations have not had the desired impact on the industry-wide pensions sector, with the final draft containing no references to any new sector fund as compared to initial drafts.
Hugo Clemeur, secretary general of the Belgian Association of Pension Funds, said:
“The final wage agreement is really very limited, the salary increase margins are hardly higher than the expected inflation. The initial draft had a mention of a few sector funds but the final draft did not include this. It means that the discussion on the new industry wide pension funds are going to be held on an industry level, not on a national level. Though this agreement does not preclude any new pension funds, it is a drawback compared to initial expectations.
Social partners have agreed that the hourly wage of workers could rise by 4.5% for the next two years. With the national agreement now completed, the next round of industry-wide negotiations are expected to commence within the next couple of months.
Clemeur added: “Margins may vary from industry to industry, so we really have to see if we have industries with sufficient margins. Some industries may have some margins, others certainly don’t and it will all depend on how well a particular industry is doing and how much room there is for negotiation.
“The national collective agreement is an indicative agreement for these industries. And it is very much up to the industries themselves to see how much room there is for pensions but the agreement is not not quite in line with initial expectations. It was generally expected that the wage negotiation would leave room for setting up pensions which apparently it does not. So in that respect it is a drawback but nothing is final.
Things can still change, although one is not starting with one’s best foot forward.”
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