Tens of thousands of protesters against spending cuts have held the biggest demonstration Brussels has seen in years. Marchers came from 30 countries to warn of the human cost of public sector belt-tightening.
A union organiser said the message was: “‘No’ to more and more austerity plans by governments and European institutions with the workers paying the cost.”
John Monks, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, said: “I don’t see the help. I just see the headmaster with his cane, and I thought we abolished corporal punishment in most parts of Europe a long time ago.”
Luc Cortebeeck, with the Christian Union Belgium, said: “There have to be more job opportunities. It is possible with a greener economy. Don’t touch social security. Go for more job opportunities.”
As labour leaders demanded better social consideration in growth strategies, police said 148 people were detained. The errors of the financial sector were one of the main focus points for the workers’ anger.
The protest coincided with an EU plan to fine governments running up deficits. This is part of Europe’s effort to clean up its recession-spattered book-keeping.