Chants of “a fairer Europe for workers” were heard this Friday morning on the streets of Brussels, as protesters gathered on the Avenue d’Auderghem outside of the main European institutions.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) organised this Friday’s march of European workers to protest the policies of the EU and its members states, with a view towards influencing the upcoming European elections on the 26th of May.
“The European elections at the end of May are the most important in ten years,” said Luca Visentini, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation. “We call on citizens to vote for candidates who will work for a fairer Europe for workers. Do not be fooled by the far-right, anti-European and nationalist parties – they offer no real possibility for change.”
The protest began at 11am near Place Schuman, at the headquarters of the European Commission and the European Council, and finished around 1pm. According to the police, nearly 4,600 demonstrators were in attendance, with delegations from Italy and France particularly prominent.
“We are here for a social Europe, not a Europe only for the rich; a Europe that takes into account workers of all professions,” said Didier Bonte, general secretary of the Local Union of Lille for the CFDT (the French Democratic Federation of Labour).
Belgian trade unions were also well represented at the protest.
“The government is slowly privatising public services, putting their very existence at risk,” said Nouria El Hachloufi, president of Belgium’s SLFP (Free Union of Public Services) Youth movement. “These days, when someone retires, he or she is replaced by a young person with a temporary contract, with limited benefits. This kind of thing undermines the whole idea of public service.”