Unia reacts to the report on discrimination by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
Out of all survey-respondents of North African and Turkish origin who experienced discrimination in the past year in Belgium, 20% said it had occurred on the job market, while the European average on this point is 12%. This figure was brought to Unia’s attention in the Second EU-MIDIS report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). ‘However, the participants in the study in Belgium have a higher rate of awareness of the possibility to file a discrimination complaint with an organisation such as Unia, than respondents in other countries.’
‘The report indicates that 48% of the respondents living in Belgium are aware of the option for victims of discrimination to contact Unia, a proportion that is above the European average (38%). ‘Which is necessary, because judging from the figures in this report, there is still much work to be done here,’ said Unia director Els Keytsman.
Need for practical tests
‘Missing out on job opportunities because of one's background is unacceptable. Of those surveyed, a full 40% report having experienced this in the past five years. We believe that targeted practical tests could play a major role in addressing the problem. We would therefore like to see these practical tests explicitly incorporated into the antidiscrimination legislation. Having a legal framework would prevent the so-called witch-hunt atmosphere that some fear the practical tests would ignite. This framework would allow practical tests to be conducted if there are objective indications of discrimination. A job is not only about work. It’s also about belonging and contributing to society,’ added Keytsman.
More harassment in Belgium
‘A painful difference between the Belgian respondent and the average European respondent is also found in the experience of harassment based on ethnicity or migration background. The European average on this point is 24%. In Belgium the percentage is in fact 32%,’ according to Keytsman.
But Unia has also found some more positive news in the FRA study. For example, over 73% of the participants report feeling strong ties to Belgium, while the European average is only 67%. ‘A sense of connection is an important element for feeling like a true citizen,’ Keytsman concluded.
About the report
The FRA report was based on interviews with 25,515 people from the 28 EU member states. The FRA based the results for Belgium on 1,339 interviews, with all of the respondents being first and second-generation immigrants with North African or Turkish roots.
More employment discrimination cases reported to Unia in 2017
Last year Unia opened a total of 2,017 cases of situations where people felt they were the subject of discrimination. This represents a 6% increase over 2016 (1,907 cases). Instances of employment discrimination were the most frequently opened cases at Unia.
What is the Achbita case?
In 2006, S. Achbita was fired when she started wearing a headscarf at work. The case came before the Labour Court of Antwerp (2009), the Court of Cassation (2015), the Court of Justice of the European Union (2017) and the Labour Court of Ghent (2020). Below you can find a full chronology.
Improve the collection and processing of equality data in Belgium
"Improving equality data collection in Belgium" (IEDCB) is a Belgian project co-funded by the European Commission's Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) programme. It is carried out in partnership by the Equal Opportunities Team (FOD Justitie - SPF Justice) and Unia.
The Achbita case before the court again
‘The Achbita case must be retried. The Court of Cassation has overturned the previous ruling of the Antwerp labour court because it inadequately examined whether Ms Achbita’s dismissal was discriminatory,’ Unia says.