Tens of thousands of Belgians protest reforms, labour law

BRUSSELS – Tens of thousands of workers have rallied in the Belgian capital to protest against government reforms and labour laws, disrupting public transport and traffic.

Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said around 45,000 people took part in Thursday’s protest, the fourth since Prime Minister Charles Michel took office in 2014. The march ended peacefully.

Tensions have been high since U.S. heavy equipment maker Caterpillar announced the closure of its Belgian production plant, meaning the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

Marc Goblet, head of the FGTB trade union, said things have got worse in Belgium in recent years.

He said that “more and more people are living under the poverty line” and that workers’ wages have dropped below those in neighbours like Germany, France and the Netherlands.