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16 Nov, 2016 11:05

Protesting soldiers teargassed, hit with water cannon by Belgian police (VIDEO)

Protesting soldiers teargassed, hit with water cannon by Belgian police (VIDEO)

Riot police in Brussels turned water cannons and tear gas on scores of angry military personnel protesting government plans to raise the retirement age from 56 to 63.

According to local reports, an 8,000-strong crowd of servicemen and women took to the streets of the Belgian capital to express their disapproval at the proposal.

Footage of Tuesday's demonstration, which took place on a national holiday for the Belgian royal family, shows protesters clashing with riot police amid the explosion of tear gas canisters.

Trouble broke out as unions met with Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput and resulted in nearby roadways and tunnels being closed off for a number of hours, according to HLN Nieuws.

The protest culminated in violence close to the residence of Belgium’s Minister of Defence on Mont St Lambert street, where protesters reportedly threw lemons and other projectiles at police officers. Police deployed water cannon to disperse the demonstrators.

In Belgium, members of the armed forces are barred from going on strike but are permitted to protest or participate in demonstrations on holidays.


Under government plans, the retirement age will rise to 63 years in 2030 and the conditions for being granted a military service pension will change from 2019, De Tijd reports.

VSOA, one of four public sector unions that supported Tuesday’s march, has labeled the government move ill-thought out and a "demolition" of the current pension scheme.

“The government wants to break the solidarity between the various sectors of the public sectors,” the VSOA said last month. 

A second union, SLFP, who represent servicemen and women, said the government treatment of people who have risked their lives for the “safety and protection” of Belgium is “unacceptable”.