Police count 45,000 at Belgian anti-government demonstration

Around 45,000 people took part Thursday in a national demonstration against the government of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, police said according to the Belga news agency, while transport services were hampered for several hours.

It was the fourth large-scale protest since the centre-right government took office two years ago, introducing initiatives including pension reforms and a controversial overhaul of the 38-hour working week.

The protest was organized by Belgium's three main trade unions to deliver the message that "this is not a happy anniversary." The unions said that 70,000 people had participated in the march through the centre of Brussels, Belga reported.

They marched under slogans such as "Don't touch my 38 hours," and "Dignity comes through a job."

"This government is the most antisocial in the last 30 years," said Rudy De Leeuw, the president of the socialist FGTB trade union, according to Belga. Its secretary general, Marc Goblet, threatened with a general strike if the government does not respond to the syndicates' demands.

Public transport in Brussels ran a skeleton service early Thursday, while regional train and bus services across the country were also affected, Belga reported. National railway services ran normally, allowing protesters to travel to and from Brussels.

Michel's coalition government includes his francophone liberal party, the Flemish liberal party, the Dutch-speaking Christian Democratic party, and - for the first time - the nationalist party N-VA. The government took office in October 2014.

Last update: Thu, 29/09/2016 - 17:38
Author: 

More from Europe

"We shall overcomb": Tens of thousands join London Women's March

An estimated 100,000 people gathered in central London on Saturday for a rally and march to show support for the...

Slovenian interior minister says Geneva convention outdated

Slovenia will not let others run its asylum policy and mange its borders, and the Geneva convention on refugees is...

Trump win causes right-wing hearts to soar at meeting in Germany

Looking west the day after US President Donald Trump's inauguration, European right-wing party leaders who had...

Hundreds protest in Berlin in solidarity with US Women's March

Hundreds are staging a demonstration for women's rights in front of the US embassy in Berlin, on the same day that a...

Five dead, 23 missing after avalanche hits Italian hotel

The death toll in an avalanche that buried a hotel in Italy earlier this week has risen to five and 23 people are...