Police have clashed with people protesting in the Belgian capital against the government’s austerity measures for the social and economic sectors.
Belgian police fired water-cannon during clashes with protesters at a huge demonstration in Brussels on Tuesday against the center-right government's austerity measures.
A group of around 100 masked protesters broke away from the main rally of around 60,000 people and started hurling objects at riot police, prompting officers to drive them back with jets of water.
The demonstration was called by several trade unions under the slogan "Our cup runs over.”
The protesters denounced proposed reforms by Employment Minister Kris Peeters, increasing workers' flexibility at work, longer careers before pensions kick in and less pay under tougher conditions. The reforms will also allow employers to impose 45-hour work weeks.
"Everybody will be hurt very much by the abandonment of the 38-hour week, the increased recourse to temporary workers, the absence of coordination, the under-financing of (public services) or pensions," FGTB union official Michel Meyer told Le Soir newspaper.
Tuesday’s rally is set to pave the way for a mass public services rally, a rail strike scheduled for May 31 and general strikes in June, September and October.
Belgian trade unions argue that the center-right free market policies of Prime Minister Charles Michel over the past two years are costing an average family some 100 euros (112 dollars) a month.
Belgium was brought to a standstill back in November 2014 due to a mass anti-austerity protest and the biggest general industrial action in years that grounded flights, shut ports and cut international rail links.
The Belgian government has come under fire for security lapses in terror attacks claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in Paris and Brussels.
Last November, gun attacks and bombings killed 130 people in Paris. Later, in March, two men also set off their explosives in the departure hall of the Brussels airport in coordinated blasts that also hit a metro station in the Belgian capital, killing a total of 32 people.
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