Belgians hit the streets in row over wages

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Belgians hit the streets in row over wages

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Belgium ground to a halt on Friday as trade unions held a day of protest against the introduction of austerity measures and in the debt mired country.

Workers are furious with government plans to keep wage rises to no more than 0.3 per cent above inflation

Unions leaders backed the move, the rank-and-file rejected it out of hand.

Philippe Van Muylder is from the FGTB/ABVV union:

“Happily, Belgium’s caretaker government have said to Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel that indexing was a bad idea and they don’t want to touch it. We will help the government to stand firm.”

The changes apply to all workers in the country.

“I am not Belgian myself, I can’t vote, I am British, it is the only we can show that we are not happy…to be here, to demonstrate.”

Unions reacted with anger to government plans to scrap the rule that links salary increases to inflation.

The measure makes Belgium less competitive according to some and has been criticised by EU states including Germany.