From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Belgian workers take action against cuts plans
Monday 30 January 2012
by Our Foreign Desk
Belgium’s three main unions – the socialist FGBT, the Christian democratic CSC and the liberal CGSLB – called the strike to warn the government not to go ahead with its €12 billion (£10bn) cuts plan.
The cuts include a pension “reform” that forces people to work longer for less.
The strike closed one of the country’s airports and disrupted flights in and out of Brussels.
Trains and public transport systems were paralysed and many schools shut.
Factories and businesses stood idle, while the ports of Ostend, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Antwerp were at a standstill.
The three unions last staged a general strike in 1993.
Trade union leaders converged at the EU summit for a small demonstration, demanding a government plan to kick-start the economy and a better deal for workers.
FGTB general secretary Anne Demelenne said: “Austerity is not the solution, it is the problem.”
She called on EU chiefs to tax financial transactions, regulate financial markets, and co-ordinate corporate taxation.
And union leaders delivered a symbolic “eurobond” as part of their call for eurozone states to pool their debt.
Ms Demelenne said issuing eurobonds would rein in money market speculators and help countries “revive an economy that serves the workers.”
CSC leader Marc Leemans agreed: “What we need is growth. Growth creates jobs. And you don’t get growth when you suck the oxygen out of the economy by austerity, austerity, and then some.
“There should be more solidarity between member states. Eurobonds are a good solution.”
Photos of the strike in Antwerp today are here.
Reform of Portugal’s labour laws and the right-wing coalition government’s austerity measures are provoking mass opposition: here.