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Belgian protest against austerity turns violent

Belgian protest against austerity turns violent
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Tens of thousands of trade unionists have staged a general strike across Belgium on Thursday.

The protest, which turned violent in Brussels, formed part of a country-wide walkout over austerity measures.

Dockworkers clashed with police officers, who responded by using water cannons.

In the Belgian capital, police said 100,000 people turned out; demonstrators put the number at 120,000.

They are angry about the new Belgian government’s plans to hike the retirement age to 67 in 2030.

Ministers are also planning cuts to public spending and tax reform.

Unions say if the plans are not dropped than further strikes will be held on December 8 and 15.

“I am opposed to the measures that are being taken right now.I think they are too tough,” said one female protester.“We are shifting the goalposts.”

“This is how it is. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,” said one man who had travelled in from Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.

Belgium’s state rail operator SNCB said it had sold 80,000 tickets for people planning to take part in the Brussels march, the Belga news agency reported.