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Thousands protest in Brussels over cost of living crisis

Rising food prices, startling energy bills, and frustration with politicians and employers brought 10,000 people to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday.

Dressed in green, blue and red, the colours of the three main unions – the anger was palpable as they gathered in the city centre. 

Protestors told Euronews they want local, national and European politicians to react now and take immediate measures to help them with the financial burden of the crisis.

They say the responsibility lies with national politicians to address the matters now and not to blame geopolitics. 

“I have been working for the past 23 years and now is the first time I am having real difficulties to survive,” Ludovic from Brussels told Euronews.

Another steel worker from Charleroi said he “counts on his government to fix problems and find solutions”.

“I don’t care about geopolitics,” he added.

Some of the protesters held banners calling for a law from 1996 on “workers’ well-being” to be modified so that trade unions can negotiate pay rises.

But the Belgian political landscape is complex as Miranda Ulens, the spokeswoman for The General Labour Foundation of Belgium explained. 

“We have different types of government. We have the Flemish-speaking part, the Dutch-speaking part, they’re not doing anything. And they have the money but they are saying we want our balances of public finances in check, so we’re not giving anything. But they need to help the people now.”

“That is not acceptable for our people,” Olivier Valentin tells Euronews, adding that there are a lot of companies which have difficulties at the moment, but also enterprises that make a lot of profits.

Valentin says it must be possible to negotiate higher wages for workers in these companies, but the 1996 law makes it impossible. 

He added that the solution is not to send the bill to Putin but to find autonomy in our energy policy.

It’s more regulation in the energy politics because today it’s too liberalised, he adds. 

A general strike is planned for 8 November in Belgium.

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