The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have supported Belgian union protest action, which culminates in a general strike this Monday, 15 December.
Unions are objecting to government plans to implement austerity measures – raising the pension age, freezing wages and making public service cuts. The public sector movement began early last month with 100, 000 people taking part in a march in Brussels. The demonstration was followed by provincial actions in November and December, halting underground trains, buses and trams throughout Belgium. High-speed trains to France, the Netherlands and Germany were suspended, along with Eurostar services to London.
ETF President Lars Lindgren said: “The Belgian government is using EU austerity targets to penalise families, employed and unemployed, students and the poorest of society rather than targeting the big capital that remains almost untouched by the government’s austerity measures. Unions, together with the community, are taking a clear stand to defend them; we welcome this strong stance. Last month saw one of Belgium’s biggest labour demonstrations since World War Two. Unions and workers are saying enough is enough.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin added: “A sick economy is like any illness. Deprivation is not the key to a return to full health, intervention support and extra nourishment is. Austerity budgets are the refuge of the politically inept and negligent and must be confronted in the public interest particularly by those working women and men and their communities that will bear the brunt of the harm caused”.