40,000 march in Brussels to defend jobs

16th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The march was the second in a series of four European demonstrations after a first protest on Thursday in Madrid that drew 20,000 people.

Brussels -- About 40,000 people marched in Brussels on Friday calling for tougher job protection in Europe in the face of an unprecedented recession and mass lay-offs.

The march was the second in a series of four European demonstrations after a first protest on Thursday in Madrid that drew 20,000 people. Two more protests are due on Saturday in Berlin and Prague.

"There's nothing outmoded about a model that comes with a social safety net," the head of the European Trade Union Confederation, John Monks, told demonstrators.

"It offers a fall-back whenever the greed and excesses of financial capitalism give individuals a real battering," he added, urging politicians to "take active, ambitious, coordinated, social measures."

While police said 40,000 people participated in the Brussels demonstration, organisers put their number at 50,000.

Metal industry workers were among the most numerous in the demonstration with many of the companies in their sector slashing jobs and production to ride out the recession.

Official EU data released on Friday showed that the eurozone economy lurched deeper into recession in the first quarter, contracting a record 2.5 percent.

The European Commission warned earlier this month that mass unemployment could return to haunt Europe, with the jobless rate expected to jump to a post-war high of 11.5 percent in the eurozone next year.

"Job security is no longer what it was," lamented Raymond Chopin from northern France.

"I'm here so that things change, so that money does not only go to the banks," said Rik Kielens, who works at a semi-conductor maker which has been hit hard by the slump in car sales.

He said that he was currently working part-time, with subsidies keeping his revenue loss to 20 percent. He said that other colleagues had opted instead for a payout to leave the company.

AFP/Expatica

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