This 15 December 2014 video is called Belgium: Biggest strike in years hits Brussels.
By Ben Chacko:
Strikers bring Belgium to standstill
Thursday 22 December 2011
Belgian public-sector workers took 24-hour strike action today to defend their pensions, paralysing public transport, shutting schools and government buildings and forcing hospitals to restrict services to emergency care only.
The rail system shut down from late on Wednesday night, with the international Eurostar which operates trains between London, Brussels and Paris cancelling services to Belgium for the duration of the strike.
Fellow rail company Thalys, which runs trains from Paris through Brussels to the Netherlands and Germany, also shut down operations for the day.
Trade unionists blocked many of Brussels’s main boulevards, staging demonstrations against government cuts.
Most senior EU officials at Brussels-based institutions were out of the city for the strike with many having scheduled their Christmas holidays early to avoid confronting the popular backlash against their policies.
Belgium’s new government headed by Socialist Party PM Elio Di Rupo is attempting to raise the age at which workers can claim an early pension as part of the European Union’s counterproductive “austerity” drive.
The attack on retirement rights is part of an axe-wielding budget aimed at reducing the country’s public-sector deficit to below the arbitrary EU limit of 3 per cent of GDP.
The ABVV trade union said that workers “are striking against the government retirement measures because they are being imposed on us in the absence of any kind of social negotiations.”
A nationwide day of action is planned for January 30 to coincide with a summit of EU chiefs.
Workers in many European countries were also taking industrial action today.
Security staff at France’s Charles de Gaulle airport were on strike for a seventh day over pay, while doctors in the Netherlands staged a three-hour wildcat strike after the country’s parliament cut their reimbursement for a number of common procedures.
Rail workers in Greece staged a five-hour work stoppage from noon while train engineers in Portugal will walk off the job from tomorrow until Christmas Day in protest at penalties being imposed on workers for joining a recent general strike.
Paul Krugman | Europe’s Austerity Measures May Guarantee Recession. Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: “European leaders earlier this month announced a plan that, on the face of it, was pure nonsense. Faced with a crisis that is mainly about the balance of payments, with fiscal crisis as a secondary consequence, they supposedly committed everyone to severe fiscal austerity, which would guarantee a recession while leaving the real problem unaddressed”: here.
Paul Krugman | Rooted in Politics, Austerity Worsens the Greek Tragedy. Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: “So now the austerity isn’t market-driven – it’s political, the pound of flesh official lenders are demanding for maintaining the trickle of cash. And it really is in large part about punishment; we’ve now seen a fairly impressive demonstration that big budget cuts in a depressed economy hardly even reduce the deficit, because they drive the economy down and tax receipts with it”: here.