BRUSSELS, Sept 29 Tens of thousands of Belgian
workers marched through Brussels on Thursday to mark the second
anniversary of a centre-right government that plans to extend
the working week and abandon a scheduled wage increase.
The protest, the fourth against the government in two years,
saw workers dressed in the green or red of respective unions
march across the city centre from north to south.
Police said the turnout was 45,000 and unions put the figure
at 70,000. The march closed some of Brussels' main roads.
"The aim of today is to make... the government stop
targeting workers and start targeting tax evasion," said Sophie
Van De Velde of the public sector CGSP union.
In July, the government said it planned to allow a working
week of up to 45 hours for limited periods, a move unions said
would weaken workers' rights. The maximum now is 38 hours.
The government is also considering skipping a round of
automatic wage hikes for a second time to make Belgium more
competitive. Belgium and Luxembourg operate a system whereby
wages are automatically increased in line with inflation.
Police had warned commuters not to come to Brussels by car.
Brussels Airport advised passengers to allow extra time for
travel to the airport.
While a number of bus, tram and metro lines in the city were
closed, international train services such as the Eurostar to
London and the Thalys to Paris and Amsterdam were on schedule.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Temis Tormo; Editing by
Philip Blenkinsop and Louise Ireland)