Europe

Workers get €30,000 bonus by mistake at Belgian steelworks

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Workers at a Belgian steelworks had a pleasant start to the weekend when they found an extra €30,000 (£26,200; $34,000) in their bank accounts.

Alas, as some of them suspected, the money added to their pay was a clerical error - the actual bonus should have been €100, Belgian media report.

But some took the windfall at face value, paying off debts or, in some cases, reportedly hitting the casino.

Now the company in Charleroi has asked for its money back.

Where did the money go?

It is not clear how many of the 230 workers received the huge bonus at the Thy-Marcinelle steelworks, where some workers earn about €1,600 a month, the Sudinfo news site reports.

However, former union official Guiseppe Picciuto thought only "a few" employees had been affected.

"I was shocked to see I had so much money in my account," said one unnamed employee who did get the extra money.

"But it was clear it was just a mistake so I did not touch it. I just took my salary and put the rest aside as a precaution.

"The problem is that I know some people who spent part of the sum. I know that some went to the casino, some had debts and others had funds seized from their bank accounts automatically."

What does the law say?

Labour law is very clear: a sum of money wrongly drawn must be reimbursed in full, labour lawyer Etienne Piret told broadcaster RTL.

"Even," he said, "if they can claim, which seems dubious, that they were acting in good faith or believed they really had the right to that bonus."

Mr Piret added that there was a possibility that payment deadlines could be requested.

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