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Police unions stages protest outside Flemish Liberal Party congress

The unions that represent the country’s police officers have staged a protest outside the Kinepolis multiplex cinema complex in Brussels where the Flemish liberal party Open VLD is hold a congress today (Saturday 22 October). The unions are unhappy at measures that have been brought in that they say are disadvantageous for police officers nearing the end of their careers and with a pay increase that they believe is insufficient. 

The leader of the Flemish liberals Egbert Lachaert described the protest on Saturday morning as “intimidating”. “Protest is oke, but this kind of intimidating action is undemocratic”, Mr Lachaert said. 

At the start of this year the Federal Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) announced that police officers would be given a net pay increase of 60 euro/month. However, at the recent budget talks the Federal Government decided that the increase will be spread over 3 years. 

Vincent Houssin of the liberal public sector union VSOA told VRT News that “In the first instance we are asking for some respect. Respect for the police that is what the government promised us when it took office. We also ask for respect for the rights we already had and for the agreement that was made, an agreement for which the Interior Minister had a mandate”.

Writing on Twitter the leader of the Flemish liberals Egbert Lachaert said "Demonstrating is ok, but a intimidating action directed against our members during which one person was injured is not democratic." 

A party spokesman says that there were scuffles when the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, the Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne and party leader Lachaert received a delegation from the police unions. The talks between the Flemish liberal politicians and the police union representatives lasted between 45 minutes and one hour. 

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