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Police boo as Royals enter cathedral for King’s Day Te Deum

Around 200 police officers staged a protest outside Brussels Cathedral as members of the Belgian Royal Family attended the King’s Day Te Deum. Members of the four trade unions that represent the country's police officers were present at the demonstration. The demonstrators booed as the members of the Royal Family and politicians entered the cathedral. 

The protesters carrying flags and wearing the colours of their respective unions threw bangers and smoke bombs as they stood behind the barriers that formed a security cordon around the cathedral. 

Vincent Houssin of the liberal trade union VSOA told journalists that "Today’s action is about visibility, from tomorrow we will take action that will cause more disruption. By sending out this kind of signal at what is an important event shows that there needs to be cash on the barrel”.

The unions are protesting against changes to the rules for police officers that are nearing the end of their careers. Furthermore, negotiations on a pay increase for the country’s policemen and policewomen have reached an impasse. There is also discontent at the means that are at the disposal of the various police services. 

Monday’s protest is the first in what is planned to be two months of action. This will include working-to-rule at airports and extra thorough roadside checks on motorists. However, the unions aren’t prepared to give precise details of what they have planned.  

In a reaction to Monday morning’s demonstration, the Interior Minister Anneleis Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) told journalists that she understands why the police officers felt that they need to protest.

However, “Working through a 20-year backlog (the last pay increase was implemented during the police service reform of 2001) is not easy". Ms Verlinden added that police officers can count on her efforts to make progress and find a solution.

 

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