On January 30 the three Belgian trade unions called a 24-hour general strike in both the public and private sectors. It was the first general strike since 1993. The immediate background was the public sector general strike on December 22 against the austerity measures of the new Socialist Party government led by Elio Di Rupo.

In reaction to a recent protest by street cleaners in Brussels, the bosses complained that, ‘If every reform provokes such a strong opposition, we will never be able to move forward.” In response to this one of the workers involved in the protest, speaking on TV, said, “What else are we supposed to do? Do you want us to go for a nice walk through the city or organise a little picnic? We have to show that we are angry. Those on the streets today are not kids. They are angry workers and they are damned right to be doing what they have done.”

Recent redundancy announcements in Belgium have provoked a very militant response from workers. The case of the InBev brewery workers is one example, as is that at Carrefour. Also a spontaneous strike on the railways after the recent fatal rail accident reveals the real mood within the Belgian working class.

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