More than 25,000 Belgians have staged a rally in Brussels, protesting against the government’s austerity measures while demanding equal status for workers and employees. The march on Thursday was organized by the Socialist and Christian Democratic unions, which estimated the number of protestors at 35,000.
“Austerity is not the solution, it is the problem. We must change course. [There] should be more and better jobs,” Secretary of the Christian Democratic Union Claude Rollin said.The protesters also expressed opposition to a proposal presented by Prime Minister Elio di Rupo’s government to freeze wages for public sector workers for two years. Rollin criticized the government’s early retirement reforms without taking any step to improve the status of workers. The Socialist Union has pledged to take further actions in case the government refuses to heed public demands. There is a growing resentment against di Rupo’s government as a large number of public sector workers have been laid off and many more are facing pay cuts. The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries. CAH/KA