Belgian unions demand better wages and help with high energy bills

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Thousands of Belgian workers took to the streets on Monday to demand better wages after a national day of protest was called by unions.

Around 6,000 demonstrators were out in Brussels to protest stagnating wages amid rising inflation.

One protester, Abygaelle Urban, explained to Euronews how difficult the situation she and other workers are living under.

“Every day I have to choose between paying for fuel in order to go to work, feeding my family or paying to heat my family – especially during the winter,” Urban said.

“I am here because we need freedom for the Unions and we need negotiations. We need to make things move forward. People are close to dying because of their precarious situations. Everything is increasing apart from our salaries.”

Demonstrators also criticised the recent convictions of some trade unionists who were sentenced last year by the Belgian courts for their participation in illegal protests.

“We are really tired of the attacks against union freedoms in Belgium,” Hillal Soro, a protester said. “Seventeen of our comrades were convicted over legal union activities. We are truly mobilised and unified against these union attacks.”

Among the sentenced unionists, is Thierry Bodson, president of the socialist General Labour Federation of Belgium, who was leading the demo with the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions.

He was convicted for having blocked a viaduct in Liège six years ago.

“These days, the simple fact is if you take part in a strike, or block traffic circulation, according to the law, it’s enough to get convicted with suspended prison sentences,” Bodson said.

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