Some 30,000 angry workers took to the streets of Brussels on Thursday (February 21) to demonstrate against austerity measures planned by the Belgian government.
Holding banners, dancing, drumming, blowing whistles and chanting, people angry at wage cuts and tax rises marched across the city in one of the biggest protest in months over austerity policies.
"This is our action today to say to the government, enough is enough," Youssef Ben Abdel Gelel of the Socialist Union said, adding he was protesting against austerity measures that the government adopted under the pressure of the EU Commission and Council.
There were many public workers among the demonstrators, paralysing public transport across the already congested Belgian capital.
Workers said they ended up paying for the economic crisis by enduring cuts in unemployment allowances, freezing salaries and reviewing the consumer price index. They claim that the government spares the rich and instead makes the average workers’ pay for the crisis.
Belgium reached a deal on its 2013 austerity budget last November. The country needs to save 3.7 billion euro ($4.74 billion) in 2013 if it is to reach its goal of cutting its deficit to 2.15 percent of output during the year.
Belgians face cuts in unemployment benefits, limits on early retirement and reduced or frozen spending in the public sector.