Demonstration to bring Brussels traffic chaos
18 March 2005, BRUSSELS – Thousands of trade union protestors are set to descend upon the Belgian capital this Saturday, bringing traffic in the centre of town to a virtual standstill.
18 March 2005
BRUSSELS – Thousands of trade union protestors are set to descend upon the Belgian capital this Saturday, bringing traffic in the centre of town to a virtual standstill.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which is organising the action in defence of employment and social rights, predicts that more than 50,000 people will take part in the demonstration.
It is set to kick off at the Gare du Midi around 2.00 pm and head past the Bourse toward the Gare du Nord.
Le Soir newspaper reports that the number of protestors could be as high as 100,000, according to various unnamed sources.
Trade unionists from around Europe will partake in the action, "to send a clear signal to the summit that the protection of employment and fundamental social rights must be a priority for future EU policy," the ETUC says in its announcement.
The protest will take place two days before the EU leaders gather in Brussels to discuss the future direction of the Lisbon Strategy, a framework for making the Union the world’s most competitive, knowledge-based economy by 2010.
Specifically, the trade union group opposes any further deregulation of the European labour market and a more flexible reform of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact laying down strict fiscal discipline for the bloc’s member states.
Brussels "risks being paralysed for a greater portion of the day as a result of the protest," Le Soir’s online edition warned Friday, urging residents who do not absolutely have to go into town to stay home.
The action will already cause numerous problems well before getting underway, as parking will be forbidden on the entire protest route beginning at 8.00 am.
Several bus and tram lines will be disrupted, and a spokeswoman for the Stib public transport company recommends that residents use the metro instead.
For more information about public transport disruptions, check stib.irisnet.be or call 0900 10 310 (calls cost 45 cents per minute).
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news