Belgian strike against new gov’s austerity measures

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- Belgian demonstrators have taken to the streets of the capital, Brussels, to protest against the new government’s austerity measures.

As many as 100,000 protesters turned up for a peaceful demonstration in the capital on Thursday, waving flares and holding banners against the economic and social reforms announced by the administration of the newly-elected prime minister, Charles Michel.

Unions as well as the socialist, green and extreme left parties decried the government decisions to cancel the customary cost-of-living increases and raise the retirement age from 65 to 66 from 2025 and to 67 in 2030.

The new government also plans to reduce costs in the civil service as well as in the fields of culture and scientific research.

“The whole raft of government measures creates a potentially explosive cocktail,” said Marie-Helene Ska, the secretary general of the leading Belgian union, CSC.

The Thursday protest created disruptions to subway trains, trams and buses throughout the capital, where the European Union headquarters is based.

The Thursday march could signal more strikes in the future against the austerity policies.

Workers at steel firms, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, and the post office are also planning to display a work slowdown.

European countries are struggling with an economic crisis that erupted in early 2008, leaving millions unemployed and in financial distress.

According to official figures, over 125 million people across the European Union, about a quarter of the bloc’s entire population, either live in poverty or are at the risk of poverty.





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