Anti-austerity demonstrations in Belgium on Wednesday drew tens of thousands of people—demanding an end to new measures which they say unfairly target workers and favor corporations. Organised by Belgium's three largest unions, the protests came in response to new rules pushed through by the country's center-right coalition government, led by Prime Minister Charles Michel, in its first month in office, including wage freezes amid rising inflation, an increase in the retirement age, cuts to social services, and punitive taxes on lower-wage earners.
"The signal is clear. People are angry, livid. This government's policies are totally unbalanced," Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV-CSC) said chief Marc Leemans.
Marie-Helene Ska, ACV-CSC secretary general, added, "The government tells us and all of the parties tell us that there's no alternative. We don't contest that they have to find 11bn euros (£8.6bn; $13.6bn) but we've been saying for a long time that it's possible to find this money elsewhere, rather than in the pockets of the workers."
"They are hitting the workers, the unemployed," one protester, Philippe Dubois, pointed out "They are not looking for money where it is."
The unions are planning a series of regional, weekly strikes beginning next month, along with a nationwide strike on December 15.