Europe

Tens of thousands of Belgians protest reforms, labor law

  • Members of trade unions and others march during a general strike in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Demonstrators marched on Thursday against cost cutting measures and government reforms. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

    Members of trade unions and others march during a general strike in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Demonstrators marched on Thursday against cost cutting measures and government reforms. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)  (The Associated Press)

  • Trade Union workers from the Caterpillar company march during a general strike in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Demonstrators marched on Thursday against cost cutting measures and government reforms. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

    Trade Union workers from the Caterpillar company march during a general strike in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Demonstrators marched on Thursday against cost cutting measures and government reforms. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protestor releases a colored smoke canister as he marches during a general strike in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Demonstrators marched on Thursday against cost cutting measures and government reforms. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

    A protestor releases a colored smoke canister as he marches during a general strike in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Demonstrators marched on Thursday against cost cutting measures and government reforms. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)  (The Associated Press)

Tens of thousands of workers have rallied in the Belgian capital to protest against government reforms and labor laws, disrupting public transport and traffic.

Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said around 45,000 people took part in Thursday's protest, the fourth since Prime Minister Charles Michel took office in 2014. The march ended peacefully.

Tensions have been high since U.S. heavy equipment maker Caterpillar announced the closure of its Belgian production plant, meaning the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

Marc Goblet, head of the FGTB trade union, said things have got worse in Belgium in recent years.

He said that "more and more people are living under the poverty line" and that workers' wages have dropped below those in neighbors like Germany, France and the Netherlands.