The UK Trades Union Congress is appalled to hear of the persecution of trade union leaders in Belgium this month, which takes place in the context of a long running legal case mounted by the Belgium state against 17 FGTB officials. The defendants, who include FGTB President Thierry Bodson, have been given suspended prison sentences from 15 days to one month, and fines ranging between EUR 1,200, and EUR 2,100, on the grounds they were present at a roadblock during a general strike in October 2015, six years ago.
The TUC is shocked to hear of the decision of the Court of Appeal of Liège, which has confirmed the sentence pronounced in November 2020 against trade unionists charged with “malicious obstruction of traffic.” We further note that the same legal mechanism was used in 2019 to prosecute the leader of the Antwerp FGTB, Bruno Verlaeckt.
This is a malicious and inappropriate use of legislation to persecute trade unionists. The TUC views this case in the context of a worldwide pattern of employers and governments trying to reduce workers' and trade unions' rights. The case also undermines freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate more generally, setting dangerous precedents for the ability of states and employers to clamp down on the ability of the working class to engage in political and industrial self-defence through trade unions action.
The TUC stands in solidarity with our Belgian sisters and brothers.
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