Dozens of Belgian trade unionists and prison workers who have been on a three-week strike to demand an end to austerity and better working conditions have broken into the justice ministry in Brussels and damaged part of the building. Police pushed them back with tear gas.

During a protest Tuesday, hundreds jammed the entry of the justice ministry while some smashed up its doors and forced their way in, damaging furniture and breaking windows.

The violence came as the Belgian government and trade unions have been trying to break a deadlock in the negotiations to end the strike. To make up for the lack of personnel, the government has called in the army to keep up security at the prisons.