Cost-of-living demonstration attracts 80,000 in Brussels

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BRUSSELS, June 20 (Xinhua) -- An estimated 80,000 people marched through the capital of Belgium on Monday in a national demonstration against the cost-of-living crisis and the loss of purchasing power, the organizer FGTB (General Labor Federation of Belgium) said.

Fronted by three labor unions - the FGTB, the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC) and the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions (CGSLB) -- the one-day demonstration took aim at the 1996 Wage Norm Act, which freezes wage negotiations.

Activists demanded an amendment to the act to ensure better wages in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, with soaring energy, food and rental prices.

The CSC also denounced the rise in travel costs, which affects over 20 percent of the workforce.

Speaking on Sunday to Flemish broadcaster VTM Nieuws, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned against labor action that could threaten stability. He said his government has already done a lot to protect workers against the rising cost of living.

De Croo said that the government plans to extend support measures until the end of the year, including cutbacks on the rate of value-added tax (VAT) on gas and electricity and the reduction of excise duties at the pump.

The large demonstration caused several disturbances on public transport networks in the north and south of Belgium.

At Brussels Airport, all departures were canceled and arrivals were also disrupted.

Following this national event, a federal labor union committee will meet on June 28 to decide the next steps in their mobilization efforts. Enditem

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