22 May 2023 - Thousands of Belgian workers are on the streets of Brussels to protect their trade union rights
(31 May 2023) A massive demonstration with over 25,000 people was organised on 22 May by the three Belgian trade union confederations (ACV-CSC, FGTB-ABVV and CGSLB-ACVLV) to protest attacks on the rights to strike, demonstrate and picket. These are basic rights for a trade union and a functioning democratic society. Actions against strikers have been on the rise since Delhaize (a major food supermarket chain in Belgium) workers went on strike for over 10 weeks.
The use of judges to ban pickets and blockades is not new but has been used and abused by employers in the last few months. The current Belgian government is planning a new law on protests and strikes that keeps the pressure on organisers and it will be used against trade unions and workers on strike. EPSU believes these new provisions should be rejected and that restricting the right to demonstrate is not in line with fundamental rights. This position is supported by the High Council of Justice of Belgium and the Belgian Federal Institute for Human Rights, both of which have expressed negative opinions on the bill.
Public sector workers in a prison in Belgium are awaiting trial due to ‘unlawful’ picketing.
On the same day, the British trade unions staged a protest outside parliament to protest against the new anti-trade union bill.
EPSU was present during the Belgian demonstration to defend the right to strike and show solidarity to Delhaize workers on strike.
Several French CGT comrades were present. They are facing the same kind of repression and picket bans after 9 weeks of strike action at Verbaudet stores (a supermarket for children’s wear), we extend our solidarity to those workers and their trade union organisations on strike.