Brussels protests: Anti-austerity demonstrations end in violent clashes with police

by Kashmira Gander, from the Independent

Violent clashes marred trade union-led demonstration in the Belgian capital of Brussels today, where some 100,000 workers gathered to protest against the government’s free-market reforms and austerity measures.

For around two hours, the unexpectedly large crowd rallied peacefully in the main streets of central Brussels, against measures they claim are damaging the welfare state.

The trade unions object to government policies that promise to raise the pension age from 65 to 67, freeze the automatic link between wages and inflation, and cut public services in a way that would affect the entire population.

Violence later broke out, with police firing tear gas and using water canon against the crowd to break up incidents. No casualties were immediately reported.

Philippe Dubois, a protester who came from the industrial rust belt of Liege, told reporters:”They are not looking for money where it is, I mean people with a lot of money.”

The event launched a month-long campaign by trade unions against the pro-business governing coalition, which will culminate in a nationwide strike on 15 December.

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