Big anti-austerity march in Belgium

This video is about the big anti-austerity march in Brussels, Belgium, on 6 November 2014.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Workers’ army brings Brussels to a standstill

Thursday 6th November 2014

BRUSSELS was brought to a standstill today as an army of workers protested against the austerity programme of the new federal government.

After Belgium’s three largest labour federations backed the trade union-organised march, even the police put the attendance at 100,000 and the railways sold 80,000 special half-price tickets.

Key to the high attendance were a two-year wage freeze and the abolition of the link that keeps benefits and public and some private-sector wages in line with inflation.

The march had to begin earlier than planned because so many people had converged on the boulevards around Brussels North station.

Demonstrators paraded peacefully for over two hours down the main thoroughfares of central Brussels to protest against government policies that will raise the pension age, restrain wages and cut into public services.

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

“This is the biggest demo in a quarter of a century,” said Marc Leemans of the Christian union federation ACV-CSC.

“A lot of people came here at their own initiative. They think it’s necessary.”

Rudy de Leeuw of the socialist-leaning General Federation of Belgian Labour said: “I haven’t experienced this in the 30 years I’ve been with the union. It is a very strong signal.

“The government’s policies are unbalanced and anti-social. Efforts are being asked of one side, while people with money are keeping safe in Luxembourg.”

Mr 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, comprising three pro-business parties and the Christian Democrats, is the first in decades that has set such a clear anti-working-class and free-market agenda.

Violence erupted towards the end of the march, which Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur blamed on around 200 Antwerp dockworkers, giving police the opportunity to deploy their water cannon.

Mass protest strike against austerity staggers new Belgian government: here.

BELGIAN trade unions opened a month of intermittent strike action yesterday by paralysing the port of Antwerp and slowing train traffic through much of the country: here.

BELGIAN trade unions capped a month of action against government austerity policies with a general strike today that paralysed air and rail traffic and halted businesses across the country: here.

Workers walked off the job in Belgium yesterday in a powerful strike against the pro-austerity government of Prime Minister Charles Michel that brought the country to a standstill: here.

8 thoughts on “Big anti-austerity march in Belgium

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  2. Belgian workers launch strike programme against austerity

    Belgian workers have begun a month-long series of intermittent strikes against the austerity measures of the Prime Minister Charles Michel-led rightwing coalition government.

    Union members belonging to the three largest Belgian trade unions held province-wide strikes Monday in four of Luxembourg’s 10 provinces, Hainault, Luxembourg, Limburg and Antwerp. They will hold province-wide strikes in East and West Flanders, Namur and Liege Monday December 1 and in Flemish and Walloon Brabant and Brussels on Monday December 8.

    As part of the month-long series of strikes, the ASTB rail union is due to hold its first nation-wide strike December 11. Airport staff at Belgium’s main airport, Zaventem, near Brussels are due to strike twice next month, firstly on December 8 as part of a regional-wide 24 hour strike and again on December 15, which is scheduled as a general strike.

    Workers in airports, buses, trams, subways, mainline trains and schools struck under the banners of the two mains trade unions, the FGTB and the CSC unions, whose members were wearing respectively red and green colours. The FTGB is the Federation Generale des Travailleurs Belge or General Confederations of Belgian Workers. The CSC is the Confederation des Syndicats Chretiens, or Confederations of Christian Trade Unions.

    Workers blocked roads and roundabouts to prevent access to airports, harbours and public sector buildings such as schools and colleges. Half of all teachers were on strike in Antwerp. The airport of Charleroi was paralysed by the strike. The port of Antwerp was closed and ships had to wait offshore to disembark their cargo on the port reopening the next day.

    Since September 2014 with the coming to power of the coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA) and Reformist Movement (MR), a savage austerity programme has been rolled out by Prime Minister Michel, nicknamed Michel I for his arrogance towards the working class.

    FTGB leader Marc Goblet said of the strikes, “We are fighting on everyone’s behalf.” But the FTGB and the CSC have mounted a series of rolling strikes in order to divide workers into provincial areas and avoid a series of one-day general strikes nationwide. This is to better allow the trade unions to continue co-managing the cuts alongside the government and employers.

    CSC leader Marie-Helene Ska revealingly stated on Belgian TV, “The message towards the bosses is very clear: please listen to us and do not wall yourselves in your stubbornness with the government agreement on implementing austerity; accept having a discussion with us; there is nothing shameful in discussing these measures which are perfectly unjust.”


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