Gusty Graas

A reasonable salary agreement in the civil service

The debates on the 2023 budget have dominated the last few days in parliament. It is an open secret that this budget is naturally characterized by the current crisis.

Since the pandemic, 5.5 billion euros have been made available as aids and financial help, so that companies and people can get through the difficult times. In this context, the crucial question must be asked, whether right now is the right moment to conclude a new salary agreement with the civil service.

It is a clear ‘Yes’ from the DP. Therefore, Minister Marc Hansen is to be congratulated for having managed to conclude a reasonable agreement with the CGFP. This proves his ability to lead the social dialogue constructively. And the fact that this agreement could be signed even before the expiration of the current agreement is further proof that both parties are willing and able to guarantee social peace in the public service in the future as well.

So, what is this agreement about? Eleven different points are anticipated. Above all, of course, the 5% increase on the first 100 points of the salary stands out. This is a novelty in the salary policy of the civil service. This measure is limited to one year and represents a gross increase of 106 euros for all employees. In terms of percentage, this is of course especially beneficial for the lower salaries. Someone who has 300 points, i.e. earns 6,360 euros, benefits from an increase of 1.67%. And someone who has 500 points, which corresponds to a salary of 10,500 euros, gets 1% more. As such, the increase is primarily a social measure.

In recent months, the CGFP has repeatedly demanded an increase in the point value. This is being taken into account now. From January 1, 2024, employees in the public service – this also applies to municipal officials and other parastatal institutions – will receive a linear increase of 1.95% of their income.

Then in career B1, i.e. in the average career within the public service, a premium is introduced for the master craftsman’s certificate and for the BTS (Brevet de technicien supérieur). From July 1st 2023, there will be an increase in the salary grade of 5 points for those people who have special responsibilities.

In this salary agreement, which of course still needs to pass the parliamentary vote, not everything revolves around the money. And that’s a good thing. There are also a number of other important points. I am thinking first of all about the abolition of the assessment system. Contrary to the private sector, it is more difficult to evaluate employee achievements in the public service. However, the system remains in place for civil servants and trainee employees. Equally, there still needs to be a conversation about the annual objectives between the employees and the respective managers each year.

The freedom of trade unions and the situation of those people who have been reported sick for a longer period of time should also be examined in the framework of a working group.

Overall, we can speak of a paradigm shift in the public service.

Dear listeners,

The DP believes that this salary agreement is adapted to the economic environment. It is a realistic agreement that can be absorbed financially. 50 million euros must be foreseen in the 2023 budget, and for the year 2024 it should be 80 million. These are of course gross figures. The annual wage bill in the public service currently lies between 3.5 and 4 billion euros.

As soon as the individual texts have been deposited in parliament and the legal opinion of the State Council is available, Chambers will do its work very quickly, so that the required legislative framework for this salary agreement can be implemented.

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