Protesting prison guard broke their way into the Belgium Justice Ministry building on Tuesday, vandalizing the place before baton-wielding law enforcement officers forced them out.
Hundreds of demonstrators, some hiding their faces with scarves, forced their way into the building in Brussels during a trade union demonstration on the streets outside the ministry headquarters. About a thousand campaigners turned up in support of the warders, smashing eggs against the building’s façade and hurling firecrackers through its windows.
The unexpectedly aggressive incident created even more tension over the prison guards’ strike, which started more than three weeks ago. The warders, who originally planned to go on a one-day strike over poor working condition and low pay, were forced to extend their demonstration after their demands went unfulfilled.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens stated on May 6 that the authorities would try to recruit additional prison guards, raise wages and offer flexible work hours. However, the proposal was rejected by the warders, who claimed it was not sufficient enough to solve their dilemma.
The strike has affected 17 jails in the French speaking cities of Brussels and Wallonia; however, the Flemish speaking areas of Belgium have not being disturbed.