Police say officers injured as up to 100,000 protestors in the Netherlands and Belgium denounce COVID measures on national day of protest
Police in Rotterdam and Brussels have used water cannon and teargas against rowdy rioters who set fire to vans and hurled bricks during riots following the Netherlands’ largest trade union walkout in 40 years.
Around 15,000 police officers struggled for nearly six hours on Thursday to disperse the protesters after three truck drivers were allegedly injured in a brawl between motorway worker protesters and union protesters.
The chaos, which swept through the cities of Rotterdam and Brussels, was sparked by the Dutch high-speed rail workers’ strike which was called off after the unrest.
The UN general assembly is to hold a discussion on Friday on the risks of climate change, sparked by the increasingly high temperatures across the globe that are threatening the lives of millions.
The Dutch and Belgian police clashed with a crowd that began throwing petrol bombs and rocks towards officers, as rioting spread to central Brussels.
Vehicles were set on fire, toilets in bars and restaurants along the high-speed rail line overturned, windows smashed and the Eiffel Tower illuminated yellow.
European police called in to restore order. Photograph: AP
Manuel Tame, the chairman of the Dutch police union, said up to 100,000 protestors had taken part in the nationwide walkout in which 45,000 workers were out of their jobs in what was one of the country’s largest strike days in 40 years.
Several officers were injured and 18 people arrested after projectiles damaged police vehicles, he said.
“The violence and sporadic attacks on police vehicles must be condemned by all citizens,” said the Belgian interior minister, Jan Jambon.
At least three people were seriously injured during the clashes, two truck drivers were arrested for allegedly assaulting officers, and a bus driver hit by a stone hit his head on the pavement, police said.
“There was an incident in the Brussels suburb of Papendekoch with five people who were involved in an altercation between people on motorways of Uber suburb and the unions,” a local police official told Reuters.
Amsterdam police moved in to the protest site and made the protesters disperse peacefully.
The NEV Polder, one of the country’s five big unions, had called a national strike to protest against the COVID measures, which it says will result in a closure of almost all Dutch steel mills as well as closures and job losses in other related industries.