100 000 protest Belgian labour reform

2014-11-06 17:29
(John Thys, AFP)

(John Thys, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Brussels - One of Belgium's biggest postwar labor demonstrations brought some 100 000 workers to the capital on Thursday to protest government free-market reforms and austerity measures that they claim undermine Belgium's vaunted welfare state.

For two hours, the demonstrators peacefully marched down the main thoroughfares of central Brussels to protest government policies that will raise the pension age, contain wages and cut into public services.

Violence marred the end of the march, with police firing tear gas and the water cannon to break up incidents. No casualties were immediately reported.

"They are hitting the workers, the unemployed. They are not looking for money where it is, I mean, people with a lot of money," said Philippe Dubois, who came from the industrial rust belt of Liege.

The unexpectedly massive march opens a monthlong campaign by the trade unions against the business-friendly governing coalition and is to be capped with a nationwide strike on 15 December.

Despite the opening of government-led talks with employers and unions later on Thursday, Socialist trade union leader Rudy De Leeuw vowed to continue the protests for weeks on end.

Belgium has a long postwar tradition of collective bargaining between employers and workers, and successive coalition governments representing a full scale of public opinion often have been able to contain social disagreements.

But the current coalition, made up of three pro-business parties and the centrist Christian Democrats, is the first in decades that has been able to set such a clear free-market agenda.

The government says it has been forced to push through stringent austerity measures to keep the budget deficit within European Union constraints and insists that businesses need more lenient tax policies to become more competitive in the global market.

The trade unions object to government policies that promise to raise the pension age from 65 to 67, freeze the automatic link between wages and inflation, and cut public services in a way that would affect the entire population.

Read more on:    belgium

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.