BELGIUM - Brussels became the epicentre of a national strike today as 100,000 workers protested against the federal government's plans to raise the minimum early retirement age from 58 to 60.
Rudy De Leeuw (pictured), federal secretary of the General Federation of Belgian Workers (FGTB), which led the strike along with the Christian CSC and the Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions, said the action would be followed by a further strike at the end of November if the government refused to revise its proposals.
“If the government does not change the plan we will go on strike again, a general strike all over the country, at the end of November,” he warned.
At present, an early retirement system allows Belgians to leave the workforce at a minimum age of 58, seven years before the standard retirement age of 65.
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Liberal-Socialist coalition government has proposed pushing this minimum age back to 60 as part of its ‘generational pact’, a programme of measures devised to ease the burden on the social security budget caused by Belgium’s ageing population.
This is the second national strike in a month. The first, held in Brussels by the FGTB on October 7, met with a staunch refusal by the PM to amend his policy.
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