A. Background

The Belgian trade union movement was born in Ghent in the second half of the 19th century.
Indeed, it was in this important industrial city that the first trade unions, in today’s meaning of the term, were created.
The first liberal trade unions were created in 1892 and 1893. At this time, the organisations were mainly concentrated in the large factories in certain industrial towns, especially in the textile industry. Shortly after the First World War, the trend gathered momentum with the coordination of the different liberal trade unions operating throughout the country. This led to the creation in the thirties of the “Centrale générale des Syndicats libéraux de Belgique” with a multi-industry, national strike fund (the first of its type in Belgium) and a national unemployment benefit fund.
Since then, the CGSLB has continued to develop steadily. The organisation currently has more than 289,600 members in a country of 10,300,000 inhabitants. Despite strong growth in the number of members, the CGSLB has remained an organisation on a human scale, still placing the worker as an individual at the centre of its concerns. Its also retains its other characteristics: an attachment to the virtues of dialogue, an important factor in economic dynamism, democracy and social justice, pragmatism in the face of market realities, corrected, needless to say, by social measures implemented under pressure from the trade union organisations.

B. Structure

The CGSLB is a multi-industry organisation. It takes part in all negotiations relating to the salary and working conditions of all workers.
The CGSLB also has a structure that is divided into different sectors, as follows:

  • Food & Distribution
  • Transport
  • Chemicals
  • Financial services
  • Timber, Building & Industry
  • Gas & Electricity
  • Metallurgy
  • Textile
  • Services
  • Non-Trading

The CGSLB has a very complete network of offices across the country. The administrative headquarters of the organisation remains in Ghent, partly for the historic reasons mentioned above.
The registered office of the organisation is in Brussels, the capital of Europe.

C. Services

1.Trade unions activities:


The CGSLB negotiates the multi-industry agreements, sits on the National Labour Council, on the Central Economic Council and on many other federal and regional consultative bodies.

In the sectors

Following on from the multi-industry agreement, but often quite independently, the sectors negotiate their collective agreements for all of the companies concerned with the branch in question. Once again, CGSLB representatives defend the interests of members working in the sector within the joint committees. Collective disputes that arise in companies and that cannot be solved at that level are treated within the conciliation board of the joint committees.

At company level

Every four years, the workers elect a person to represent them on the Works Council and/ or the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work. There are also trade union negotiations outside of these two bodies. Our delegates make it their duty to take charge of the collective and individual interests of the personnel whilst respecting the desires of the workers. For urgent interventions and special problems, permanent secretaries are ready to meet members in the workplace.

2. Services


The world belongs to the well-informed. To ensure that its members have access to reliable documentation, the CGSLB publishes a series of brochures and folders on a wide range of subjects. Apart from the newspaper “Librement” that members receive every month, more specialised publications are also produced.


The CGSLB is a recognised consumer organisation and therefore also defends the interests of workers as consumers. In this capacity, it has a seat at the Research and Information Centre for Consumer Organisations (CRIOC).


The CGSLB organises general training and training in communication for its members to enable them better to defend themselves in everyday life. Young people and the over fifties can register for special training. Many training courses are of course also run for trade union delegates in order to help them to exercise their mandates in an optimum manner within the companies.

Boulevard Poincaré 72-74 - 1070 BRUXELLES
Tél. 02-558.51.50
Fax 02-558.51.51
E-mail : cgslb@cgslb.be