- Title: Thousands of Belgian military protest over government pension reform plan
- Date: 15th November 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (NOVEMBER 15, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** MEMBERS OF MILITARY WALKING IN STREET STICKER ON METAL BOX READING (French): "War is declared" / SOLDIER HOLDING BOX PROTESTER CHANTING OVER LOUDSPEAKER PROTESTERS HOLDING BANNER PROTESTERS HOLDING BANNERS PROTESTER HOLDING BELGIAN FLAG PROTESTERS MARCHING AND WAVING FLAGS PROTESTER WEARING WHITE-HAIRED WIG PROTESTERS MARCHING (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT OF THE DEFENCE BRANCH OF WORKERS UNION SLFP, EDWIN LAUWEREINS, SAYING: "The government should appreciate our loyalty to the people of Belgium, to the government. We are always there, we are loyal, we serve well and we have a nice retirement plan. But now the government wants to change it and most of us have to do seven years more of service and it's intolerable, it's unacceptable." MAN WAVING BELGIAN FLAG AS PROTESTERS ARE GATHERED IN FRONT OF HIM VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS WALKING PROTESTER WALKING WITH FAKE KNIFE IN HIS BACK, WORD (French) "SACRIFICED" WRITTEN ON HIS JACKET PROTESTER WALKING HOLDING SIREN PROTESTERS WALKING (SOUNDBITE) (French) 49-YEAR OLD AIR FORCE COMMANDANT AND PROTESTER, ALAIN DEMARCHE, SAYING: "Overnight, like that, we have to work seven, nine, 10 years longer, without any possible discussion, adjustment or consultation. It's not acceptable." SMOKE FROM FLARES AMONG PROTESTERS MAN SQUEEZING LEMON AND SAYING (French) "We are again being squeezed too hard" MAN IN MASK AND MILITARY OFFICER COSTUME PUSHING WALKING AID, IN MIDDLE OF PROTESTERS
- Embargoed: 30th November 2016 12:54
- Keywords: Military protest Brussels pension reform
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00158K2QTJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thousands of military personnel marched in Brussels on Tuesday (November 15) to protest a government plan to raise the legal age to retire by seven years and reduce their pension amount.
Police said some 8,500 staff members of Belgian Armed Forces walked the streets of Brussels during the protest.
The demonstration is the latest in a series of protests held this year against several spending cut reforms brought forward by Belgium's centre-right government, some two years after it took office.
The president of the defence branch of workers union SLFP, Edwin Lauwereins, said the reform programme was 'intolerable', highlighting the loyalty of the Belgian Armed Forces personnel to the government.
"The government should appreciate our loyalty to the people of Belgium, to the government. We are always there, we are loyal, we serve well and we have a nice retirement plan. But now the government wants to change it and most of us have to do seven years more of service and it's intolerable, it's unacceptable," Lauwereins said.
A commandant in Belgian Air Force, protester Alain Demarche criticised the lack of social dialogue between the government and the military.
"Overnight, like that, we have to work seven, nine, 10 years longer, without any possible discussion, adjustment or consultation. It's not acceptable," said Demarche, 49.
The protest comes almost two years after the Belgium government began deploying some 300 troops across the country to guard possible targets for attacks, including Jewish sites and diplomatic missions, following the January 2015 attacks at French satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" and a Kosher supermarket in central Paris, that left 17 people dead.
The military presence was increased a first time following a series of attacks in and around the French capital Paris that left 130 people dead in November 2015 and a second time after 32 people, excluding three suicide bombers, were killed in two explosions at Brussels Airport and a blast inside a metro carriage in central Brussels on March 22.
Belgium has been at the heart of investigations into the attacks - which included suicide bombers targeting a France-Germany soccer match - after links to Brussels and the district of Molenbeek, in particular, were established.
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