The EU’s Brussels summit has brought out crowds of trades unionists, mostly Belgian and Portuguese, but also with representatives from other member states, to protest at the current austerity policies.
They claim their members are being asked to make sacrifices for a crisis that is not of their making, and are angry at Franco-German plans for uniform wages and taxes they say will slash living standards.
“Let’s hope that what’s happened in Portugal, which led to the government resigning, will spread through Europe and help revise this austerity that is being imposed on the European people,” said one Portuguese worker.
“It’s not normal that after having given so much money to the banks, which have done their utmost to give it away in dividends and bonuses to the bosses, that ordinary working people and taxpayers should foot the bill. It’s not accepatble in Portugal, in Greece, here, or anywhere,” said a Belgian union member.
To prevent any escalation of the protests Belgian police mobilised a large force to keep the marchers away from official buildings. Water cannon, tear gas and pepper sprays were deployed and there were several clashes with the demonstrators, although police say these were isolated incidents involving only small groups.