Belgium

Belgian military plans to quintuple spending on weapons systems

By Olivier Laurent, 6 March 2018

The country will spend billions of euros to buy weapons systems designed not only for neo-colonial wars but also large-scale land warfare in Europe itself.

Unions help Caterpillar restructure with closure of Belgian operations

By Ross Mitchell, 30 August 2017

The Caterpillar plant in Gosselies was the biggest industrial site in Wallonia, Belgium’s southern, primarily French-speaking region.

Thousands of Caterpillar workers protest plans to close Belgium plant

By Ross Mitchell and Robert Stevens, 7 October 2016

Despite the efforts of the unions and pseudo-left groups to smother opposition to Caterpillar’s closure plans, workers demonstrated their determination to fight with.

Belgian authorities mount large-scale anti-terror raid

By Kumaran Ira, 20 June 2016

Three suspects were charged with preparing terror attacks on gatherings of football fans after police raided over 100 locations across Belgium.

Belgian unions try to suppress country’s growing strike wave

By Ross Mitchell and Paul Bond, 13 June 2016

The unions in Belgium and France view a joint struggle by workers in both countries as a threat.

Rail strike hits Belgium

By Ross Mitchell, 27 May 2016

Rail workers began an indefinite strike Wednesday evening in Belgium, paralysing mass transit and creating traffic jams in Brussels.

Strike wave against austerity spreads in France, Belgium

By Kumaran Ira, 26 May 2016

Police repression of anti-austerity protests in France and Belgium is enraging workers and driving broader layers of the working class into struggle.

Belgian prison wardens strike met with government repression

By Ross Mitchell, 25 May 2016

The government plans to shrink the public sector by 20 percent, with pay and staffing being cut by 10 percent by 2020 overall.

Belgian state report points to links between police services, Brussels attacks

By Anthony Torres, 4 May 2016

The growth of Islamist networks in Europe, mobilized by NATO in its war in Syria, was the basic precondition for the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Belgian police arrest six suspects in March 22 Brussels attacks

By Anthony Torres, 19 April 2016

Mohamed Abrini’s accomplices were all known to intelligence services, as were their aliases and their movements, but they were not arrested.

Brussels air traffic controllers restart work amid growing scandal over March 22 attacks

By Alex Lantier, 15 April 2016

Unions are negotiating with Belgocontrol and the state over a reactionary contract calling for a three-year increase in the retirement age, to 58.

Belgian air traffic controllers launch wildcat strike at Brussels airport

By Robert Stevens, 14 April 2016

The working class throughout Belgium and Europe must come to the defense of the striking air traffic controllers, who have taken a courageous stand against attacks on retirement.

Officials stoke anti-Muslim hatred following Brussels attack

By Stéphane Hugues, 29 March 2016

Officials are inciting anti-Muslim racism to cover up the role of the state in creating Islamist terror networks in the war for regime change in Syria.

The US-NATO war in Syria and the Brussels terror attacks

By Alex Lantier, 28 March 2016

Islamist networks built up by the US and its European allies to provide fighters for their regime-change operation in Syria are bringing the war back to Europe, with horrific consequences.

Scandal mounts over failure by Belgian police to halt Brussels attacks

By Alex Lantier, 26 March 2016

Friday saw more revelations of inexplicable lapses by Belgian and allied security forces that helped terrorists evade detection before the Brussels attacks.

After Brussels attacks, German politicians and media demand increased state powers

By Johannes Stern, 26 March 2016

The German interior minister is using Tuesday’s attacks to press for further police powers in Germany and throughout Europe.

Belgian authorities had “precise intelligence warnings” of Brussels bombings

By Stéphane Hugues and Alex Lantier, 24 March 2016

Claims that the attacks in Brussels that killed 34 people occurred because Belgian and allied intelligence agencies somehow failed to “connect the dots” are not credible.

After Brussels attack, EU officials plan vast escalation of police spying

By Alex Lantier, 24 March 2016

Ignoring questions as to how known terrorists were allowed to plan and execute an attack while Brussels was on high alert, EU officials are launching new attacks on democratic rights.

The terror bombings in Brussels

By Alex Lantier, 23 March 2016

This horrific attack targeted innocent people in no way responsible for the imperialist wars that have devastated the Middle East.

Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam arrested in Brussels

By Alex Lantier, 21 March 2016

Astonishingly, Europe’s most wanted man, on the run from police for four months, was hiding near his parents’ apartment in the heavily-watched Molenbeek district.

Belgian rail unions cancel mandated strike action

By Ross Mitchell, 5 February 2016

After organising a 48-hour strike that shut down the Belgian rail network January 6-7, the unions wound up three other days of planned action.

Belgian workers strike during anti-terror lockdown undermined by trade unions

By Ross Mitchell, 27 November 2015

The trade unions kept the strike within regional limits, blocking it from spreading along the whole network of the national railway system.

Official justifications for Brussels lockdown unravel

By Alex Lantier, 24 November 2015

Popular frustration rose yesterday across Belgium as contradictions mounted in the official justifications for the continuing police lockdown of Brussels.

After Paris attacks, Brussels placed on lockdown

By Stéphane Hugues and Alex Lantier, 23 November 2015

Heavily armed police units launched large-scale manhunts across the Brussels area, but announced late last night that they had not found suspects, weapons or explosives.

Postal workers strike in Belgium

By Ross Mitchell, 27 October 2015

Belgium Post’s plan to increase productivity and enforce flexible work schedules across the board is intended to prepare the way for full scale privatisation.

Belgian and French authorities move to seize Russian assets

By Andrea Peters, 20 June 2015

Implementing a ruling handed down by the Hague, law enforcement officials are working to seize billions of dollars of Russian assets in Europe and around the world.

General strike against austerity hits Belgian government

By Alex Lantier, 16 December 2014

The strike brought the country to a standstill amid mass opposition in the working class to the reactionary Michel government's austerity agenda.

Suspect in Brussels shooting linked to Western-backed Syrian opposition

By Kumaran Ira, 2 June 2014

A 29-year-old French citizen, Mehdi Nemmouche, was arrested by French police on suspicion of carrying out the killing at the Jewish museum in Brussels.

Four dead after attack on Jewish museum in Brussels

By Matthew MacEgan and David Walsh, 28 May 2014

A gunman fired shots at four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels on Saturday, killing three of them on the spot. Belgian officials began a nationwide manhunt on Sunday.

Mass layoffs at Caterpillar in Belgium

By Christoph Dreier, 1 March 2013

On Thursday the management of the US construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced that it was laying off 1,400 workers at its plant in Gosselies, Belgium.

Unions suppress opposition to closure of Belgian Ford plant

By Dietmar Henning, 14 February 2013

In response to spontaneous walkouts by the workers, the unions intensified their cooperation with Ford.

Belgium: 20,000 protest against closure of Ford plant in Genk

By our reporters, 13 November 2012

The closure will throw 4,600 workers at the factory and more than 5,000 employees in related industries out of work.

Flemish nationalist gains in regional elections renew pressure on Belgium

By Paul Bond, 19 October 2012

The victory of the separatist New Flemish Alliance in last weekend’s regional elections has again increased pressures threatening the break-up of Belgium.

Opposition grows to Belgium austerity

By Robert Stevens, 3 February 2012

The six-party coalition government in Belgium is meeting with growing opposition to its imposition of billions of euros in austerity cuts.

Grenade attack on Belgian city square leaves six dead, 123 wounded

By Stefan Steinberg and Alex Lantier, 14 December 2011

Six people were dead and 123 wounded after an attacker threw three grenades and opened fire on a crowded bus station in the Belgian city of Liège.

Belgian burqa ban comes into force

By Paul Bond, 2 August 2011

Belgium has become the latest European country to implement a legal ban on the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public.

Regional divisions threaten to break Belgium apart

By Dietmar Henning, 31 January 2011

By stirring up regional chauvinism, Belgian politicians are driving the country to financial collapse and national fragmentation.

Belgium fears becoming “Greece on the North Sea”

By Paul Bond, 21 August 2010

Negotiations to form the new coalition government are proceeding slowly in Belgium, amid market demands for tough austerity measures.

European trade unions agree to closure of GM plant in Belgium

By Dietmar Henning, 24 April 2010

Trade union work councils at the Opel motor company agreed to the closure of the Belgian plant in Antwerp last Sunday.

Belgian rail workers take wildcat action over safety fears after fatal collision

By Julie Hyland, 17 February 2010

Workers on Belgium’s rail network took wildcat strike action yesterday following the crash between two rush-hour trains near the capital, Brussels, the previous day that left 18 people dead and almost 200 injured.

Belgium: Opel plant to close in Antwerp

By our correspondents, 28 January 2010

The trade unions and works council active in automaker Opel organised a sham protest in Antwerp to cover up their own role in the closure of the local factory

A socialist program to defend jobs at Opel

For a rebellion against the nationalist policies of the trade unions

By Socialist Equality Party, 28 January 2010

The Socialist Equality Party distributed this statement, translated into Dutch, to workers at the Opel factory in Antwerp, Belgium.

GM announces closure of Opel plant in Antwerp

The nationalist poison of the trade unions

By Dietmar Henning, 25 January 2010

From the start of the dispute over the future of Opel, the German trade unions have sought to spread the poison of nationalism among auto workers.

GM to close Antwerp Opel plant

By our correspondent, 25 January 2010

US automaker General Motors has closed down its Opel factory in the Belgian city of Antwerp.

Opel workers demonstrate in Antwerp in defence of jobs

Works councils and unions prepare sell-out

By our reporters, 25 September 2009

On Wednesday, 3,500 Opel employees demonstrated in front of the factory gate at the Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium, to defend their jobs. Trade union leaders cynically exploited the rally to prepare job cuts.

Belgium: New Year, new government, continuing crisis

By Paul Bond, 12 January 2009

Following the resignation of Yves Leterme the week before Christmas, Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy became the country’s third prime minister of 2008. Leterme’s government fell in a bank bailout scandal.

Tensions between leading European nations and US following NATO meeting

Foreign ministers agree to resume talks with Russia

By Stefan Steinberg, 5 December 2008

The NATO summit this week in Brussels delivered a renewed rebuff to the US over membership in the organization by Georgia and Ukraine, refusing to bow to pressure from Condoleezza Rice for a speedy acceptance of the two Eastern European countries.

Benelux countries intervene to bail out Fortis

The rise and fall of Fortis

By Stephan Steinberg, 1 October 2008

Stock markets across Europe tumbled on Monday following the news that leading banks across the continent were facing collapse.

Belgium: Undocumented workers’ hunger strikes reach critical point

By Paul Bond, 3 September 2008

Recent days have seen an escalation of protests in support of undocumented workers (sans papiers) in Belgium. The protests are being stepped up amid fears for the health of around 80 sans papiers who have now been on hunger strike for over 50 days.

20,000 march against closure of Volkswagen factory in Brussels

By our correspondents, 6 December 2006

More than 20,000 workers marched through the centre of Brussels December 2 to protest the threatened closure of the Volkswagen factory in the suburb of Forest. Some 5,000 Volkswagen workers from the Forest plant took part in the protest, supported by relatives, workers from other industries, white-collar workers, young people and the unemployed. Numerous nationalities were represented on the march, with most of the demonstrators coming from Brussels and other surrounding cities.

Volkswagen strike in Brussels enters third week

German VW workers express solidarity with Belgium colleagues

By Marianne Arens, 2 December 2006

The strike by Volkswagen workers at the VW Forest factory in Brussels against the loss of 4,000 jobs and the threatened closure of the factory has now entered its third week. The termination of production of the VW Golf model at the factory in the west of Brussels means—along with the potential loss of jobs at subsidiary companies—a total of 13,000 families are threatened with losing their main source of income. A demonstration by Volkswagen workers from all over Europe is due to take place Saturday, December 2, in Brussels.

Support the struggle of Volkswagen workers in Brussels!

Set up defense committees independently of the works council and trade unions!

By by Editorial Board, 25 November 2006

The strike by Volkswagen workers in Brussels makes clear the urgency of organizing a joint struggle by workers at all VW locations and plants.

Belgian Volkswagen factory occupied

“It is high time to wake up and become political”

By our reporters, 25 November 2006

The Volkswagen Forest works in the west of Brussels has been occupied around the clock for the past week. Of the 5,800 employees at the factory, 4,000 are threatened with dismissal, following the decision by management to switch production of the Golf model to Germany.

Strike and occupation at Volkswagen works in Belgium

By Helmut Arens, 23 November 2006

More than 5,000 workers at the Forest Volkswagen factory in Brussels have been on strike since last Friday. The workers also occupied parts of the factory at the start of the week in order to prevent finished cars from being transported out of the plant and to stop any dismantling of machines. On Wednesday morning the workers held a mass meeting at the main factory gate to decide on further action.

Belgium: Losses for ruling coalition as far right make gains

By Paul Bond, 23 October 2006

Last week’s municipal elections in Belgium revealed a deepening political crisis across the country. The parties of the national ruling coalition of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt fared badly ahead of next year’s federal elections.

Belgium: Racist murderer linked to Flemish nationalists

By Paul Bond, 21 June 2006

Some 20,000 people, many wearing white armbands, joined a march against racism in Belgium’s second largest city, Antwerp, last month. The march had been called following two recent attacks in the city that left three people dead and another seriously injured.

Belgium: Teenager’s murder exploited for right-wing agenda

By Paul Bond, 8 May 2006

The brutal murder of a Brussels teenager three weeks ago continues to reverberate through Belgian politics. It has prompted the largest demonstration in Belgium in the last 10 years while this week a petition demanding greater public safety, signed by 255,000 people, was handed to Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt by friends of the dead youth. A row has also broken out between the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice over public criticisms made by the minister.

Belgium: Opel union councils serve as management’s henchmen

A report from the GM plant in Antwerp

By Helmut Arens and Andreas Kunstmann, 18 December 2004

“We had the job of saving 100 million dollars and that’s what we did.” With these words Rudi Kenneth summarised the role of the trade unions and its factory council at the General Motors Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium. Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site recently visited the Belgian factory.

Belgian gas explosion: questions remain unanswered

By Paul Bond, 3 September 2004

The death toll continues to rise after an explosion on a gas pipeline in the small Belgian town of Ghislenghien a month ago. Twenty-one people have now died. Over 50 remain in hospital, with the condition of over half being described as critical.

Belgium: right-wing Vlaams Blok benefits from hostility to government

By Paul Bond, 30 June 2004

Regional and European elections on June 13 have dealt a serious blow to Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

Belgium: New government to scrap universal war crimes law

By Richard Tyler, 17 July 2003

The first act of the new Belgian government was to order the repeal of legislation enabling Belgian courts to hear cases of genocide, war crimes and “crimes against humanity” regardless of where they were committed and irrespective of the nationality of the victims or perpetrators.

Belgium: Liberals and Social Democrats to renew coalition without the Greens

By Paul Bond and Richard Tyler, 21 May 2003

The Liberals and Social Democrats have emerged as the strongest parties in the new federal parliament following the general election in Belgium on Sunday May 18. The biggest losers were the Greens, who look unlikely to re-enter the federal government.

Flemish Interior Minister exposed as fascist SS supporter

By Steve James, 19 May 2001

Flemish Interior Minister Johan Sauwens has been exposed as a long standing sympathiser of the SS—the elite Nazi forces used to guard concentration camps in World War II.

Belgium's extreme right Vlaams Blok increases vote in regional elections

By Richard Tyler, 19 October 2000

In recent regional and local elections, the xenophobic Vlaams Blok (VB) became the strongest party in Antwerp. The VB advocates the separation of the northern Flemish-speaking region of Flanders from French-speaking Wallonia, which together with the bi-lingual capital Brussels and a small German-speaking area comprise the modern Belgian state. Strongly anti-immigrant, it calls for the immediate repatriation of all so-called illegal immigrants.

Human Rights League lodges complaints over Belgian deportation methods

By Richard Tyler, 27 September 1999

The Human Rights League has lodged official complaints against two former Belgian Interior Ministers over the methods used by police during deportations. Sémira Adamu, a 20 -year-old Nigerian asylum-seeker, was killed as a result of a violent deportation carried out by the Belgian authorities in September 1998.

Refugees protest conditions in Belgium's "closed centres" for asylum-seekers

By Richard Tyler, 1 September 1999

In August, asylum-seekers being kept in one of Belgium's “closed centres” held a hunger strike lasting several days. They were protesting at the conditions in which they are forced to live, and the impact this was having on their children.

Legal action over dioxin poisoning in Belgium

Coca-Cola products hit by new contamination scandal

By Richard Tyler, 19 June 1999

The European Union is poised to take legal action against the Belgian government for its handling of the dioxin poisoning affair. EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler said the case went beyond Belgium's failure to provide a timely warning to other EU states about the potential hazard from dioxin-contaminated animal feeds and food products.

Belgian government suffers heavy losses in general election

By Richard Tyler, 16 June 1999

On Sunday, a political earthquake hit Belgium when simultaneous elections were held for the regional, federal and European parliaments. The greatest shocks were felt at the federal level. Christian Democrat Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene announced his resignation from office and as party leader, ending the eight-year coalition with the Social Democrats, following both parties' disastrous showing at the polls. If the Christian Democrats go into opposition, as Dehaene hinted they might, this would end more than 40 years in office.