The Belgian capital has witnessed ugly scenes as thousands of angry health workers march in opposition to the introduction of mandatory Covid vaccinations. The Brussels-Ixelles police estimate that around 3,800 people have been demonstrating since Tuesday morning against the new vaccine rules. The demonstration began with a rally on the Place de La Chapelle. The crowd then moved towards the headquarters of the country’s federal government.
The demonstration was organised by a number of Belgian healthcare unions, the CGSP, Setca, CNE, SLPF, and CGSLB.
The protest follows a week of demonstrations in front of the office of the Minister for Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke.
Demonstrators shouted slogans and threw firecrackers.
Footage also shows protestors dealing with the effects of what appears to be tear gas fired by police.
Other footage shows firefighters marching with their hands raised and they joined other frontline workers on the demonstration.
They carried numerous banners that read: “A plan against the nursing shortage now,” “Common sense,” “SOS,” “Save our health care system instead of layoffs,” “My body, my choice.”
A trade union delegation was due to meet representatives of Belgium’s Minister of Health on Tuesday morning.
Talks with Flemish parties will also take place during the day.
This “big day of action” comes as unions in Belgium are expected to launch a large number of strikers in opposition to the vaccine mandate.
Some institutions have gone ahead and set up a “Sunday service,” limiting activity to what is strictly necessary.
The unions are demanding “real consultation” on the vaccination of healthcare workers.
Widespread traffic disruption was also expected to spark travel chaos in the city on Tuesday.