More than 100,000 workers took to the streets in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday to protest austerity cuts and free-market reforms that are set to cut vital social services, freeze wages, and raise the retirement age.
Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest, which saw laborers and other low-wage workers marching peacefully through downtown Brussels to mark the start of an anticipated month-long campaign against the country’s newly elected center-right government.
The actions will culminate with a nationwide strike on December 15.
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“They are hitting the workers, the unemployed. They are not looking for money where it is, I mean, people with a lot of money,” one worker, Philippe Dubois, told the Associated Press.
Belgium’s recently elected coalition, which shuts out the Socialist Party for the first time in decades, is made up of three pro-business parties and the centrist Christian Democrats. The coalition said it was forced to institute these new free-market reforms in order to comply with the European Union’s budget restrictions.
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