Social Elections - Speech at the office of the Minister of Employment.
This Friday, December 13, 2019, on the occasion of the traditional draw for list numbers, Pierre Pirson and Herman Claus represented our organization. You will find below the speech in which some key points of our program are recalled.
Madam the Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My talk will contain 3 topics: Democracy, Important national issues and the specificity of the Belgium Confederation of Executives and Managerial Staff (CNC-NCK)
This day is first of all a key moment of democracy. I would like to pay tribute to all the people of good will who have fought in the past for workers' rights in general and this right of social democracy. And the fight is not over. To illustrate this, allow me a personal anecdote from a time when I was not yet a member of the CNC-NCK. My partner, who is of French origin, once told me that she thought it was a pity that to be a staff representative in Belgium, you had to be a member of a trade union, especially when there are only a limited number of trade unions and there are presumed direct or indirect political links.
Ignorance of the Belgian system? I do not think so. Let us take some facts. In the social elections of 2016, almost 30 percent of the mandates were not filled; moreover, the participation rate decreased. If the constraints that exist on trade unions were applied to political parties, I do not think we would be talking about a democracy.
Some bad tongues would tell me that one only has to look at the last Belgian parliamentary elections to see the problem that this could pose. I certainly do not agree with them. In fact, the Belgian May 2019 elections showed three strong messages: the environment, the distribution of wealth and the management of migration.
All these subjects have a very strong link with the business world in general and the executives and managerial staff that we represent in particular:
- In terms of climate, our energy and research federations would like to remind you that Belgium has a high level of know-how in the field of nuclear energy and in particular in the management of all categories of nuclear waste, including high-level waste. The shutdown of our nuclear power plants in 2025 would be a disaster for our contribution to the fight against global warming and would constitute a considerable loss for high-quality employment and for our economy.
- This brings me directly to the question of wealth distribution. Our means are not unlimited and for the sake of our young people and pensioners we must use them wisely rather than subsidising unsustainable solutions at a loss. Taxation on labour in Belgium is among the top in the world. As this taxation is very progressive, the salaried mangers we represent are the country's cash cow. And we have to be careful not to kill it. Excessive taxation created the company car system in the 80s and 90s. Presenting this system as a loss of income is unfair. It is the excessive taxation of salaries that created it and we ask that any reform of company cars be neutral for the real purchasing power of the people affected. We also insist that the supplementary pension system (2nd pillar) should not be attacked in the future. The money in the pension funds is the money of people who have earned it honestly by working. Any change in taxation would be a spoliation of their rights. Finally, we see that the distribution of the wealth created is increasingly unfavourable to workers in general and managers in particular. An analysis of the figures shows that employees' remuneration has lost 3% of GDP in 10 years. Worse, over 30 years, the salaries of young managers have fallen by 12%. Personally, I do not understand how this scandal can exist. There is nothing more damaging than not showing our young people the importance of investing in their future by studying, at a time of digitalization when our young people are playing the future of our country on the world stage.
- The third point is management of migration. What does this have to do with social representation? Unfortunately very easy. We call for strong condemnation of any unfair social competition. Whether it is by relocating jobs on the pretext that it will be cheaper or by importing underpaid labour forces.
The last point will be on the specificity of the our organization CNC-NCK. Speaking of democracy and national issues, I think you will have recognized in the last few minutes that the difference is obvious. The question you should ask yourself is: why is the CNC-NCK's discourse on democracy, on company cars, on energy, on pension funds and other issues so different from the three Belgian traditional unions? Not for the sake of shocking, not for the sake of standing out at all costs.
The reason is simple: We are politically neutral and active managers in business.
Neutral does not mean that each of us has no political preferences Neutral means that we want to look at the wealth of solutions of all political (democratic) hues in order to make a rational choice in line with the interests of managers and the company.
Volunteers: Even the members of the CNC-NCK National Committee are unpaid. As an example, I am still an executive in a large company in this country. Being a volunteer allows us to stay close to the reality in the field and to avoid an evolution where the career management of permanent staff becomes the main issue. Each of us is and remains free since we are not dependent for our career or standard of living on our position in the CNC.
Active managers in business: Decisions are taken exclusively by representatives and groups of executives in companies. The national CNC-NCK does not aim to intervene in the intra-company debate of managers and our intervention focuses exclusively on supporting our members.
As you have understood, our specificity is to act BY and FOR MANAGERS.
I thank you for your listening and I hope that media’s will help us to relay this message to all the participants of the next social elections.