In Belgium men earn an average of 3.3 per cent more than women. Take a look at neighbouring countries and the difference is much higher. Indeed, in France a man earns 13.7 per cent more, in the Netherlands 14.1 per cent more and Germany 17.1 per cent more. Belgium also scores well above average in the European Union. Indeed, a man in the European Union earns on average 19.1 per cent more. Hungary and Luxembourg come closer to the Belgian levels. In Hungary the difference is 3.8 per cent and in Luxembourg 4.1 per cent.
This small difference in wages between men and women was certainly not always the case in Belgium, but what is clear is that the gap is decreasing very rapidly. In 2000 men earned around 13.6 per cent more in Belgium. One possible explanation for this are the CBA scales. Such scales are fixed as part of generally binding CBAs. CBA is short for ‘collective bargaining agreement’ and refers to an agreement made between trade unions and employers or employer organisations. In Belgium, in contrast to other countries, this kind of employment agreement applies to every employee. So not only those belonging to a trade union. This means that the wage scales are like agreements for minimum wage terms. In this way inequality between men and women is prevented. A positive evolution in other words!