In Belgium, worsening economic troubles have forced the government to invoke special parliamentary powers, in a bid to close the widening gap between workers, management and its own economic strategy.
March, 1982; Brussels: EXTERIOR TVs Police with batons and water cannon move towards demonstrators and striking steel workers on street; demonstrators throw stones as police move in. (5 SHOTS)
November, 1982; Charleroi: GV PAN Cockerill Sambre steel plant, scene of industrial unrest. (4 SHOTS)
GV Canal with closed factory on right bank. (3 SHOTS)
CU Poster saying, "Make the rich pay for the crisis" (English translation of French).
GV PAN Derelict factory PAN TO derelict houses.
GV Old coal mine, buildings in disrepair, over-grown grounds and slag heaps. (2 SHOTS)
SV British Leyland sign outside shuttered factory.
Profondeville: GV Modern motorway. (2 SHOTS)
Zeebrugge: GV New port facilities under construction at Zeebrugge. (6 SHOTS)
Brussels: SV Women in dole queue outside employment office. (3 SHOTS)
GV INT Supermarket shoppers; check-out operators. (6 SHOTS)
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Background: In Belgium, worsening economic troubles have forced the government to invoke special parliamentary powers, in a bid to close the widening gap between workers, management and its own economic strategy. The centre-right ruling coalition of Prime Minister Wilfried Martens has failed to win a voluntary agreement from industry and trade unions on wage restraint and job creation, two central pillars of the government's austerity economic programme. Now nationwide strikes loom as the most serious threat to the government. In March this year (1982) there were violent protests in Brussels as striking steel-workers clashed with police. They had been employed at the steel giant, Cockerill Sambre's plant, at Charleroi where further huge redundancies are still threatened. The strike had been called to protest at delays in plans to make the loss-making company profitable by 1985. Many industrial sites at Charleroi are now derelict. Posters proclaim workers' grievances -- "Make the rich pay for the crisis". An old factory and a coal mining plant are disused and vandalised. A fading British Leyland sign still stands outside the assembly plant which was closed this year. In Profondeville, a new roadway has provoked criticism of money wastage from local people who say the old road was adequate. The roadway was built as a concession to Profondeville, after the Wallonia region was allowed extensions to its harbour in Zeebrugge. Controversy has surrounded the development of new facilities at Zeebrugge; they will receive Algerian natural gas through France. Critics say that by the time the extensions are completed, Soviet gas will be on-stream, making the installation obsolete. In Brussels, however, the dole queues continue to grow - women and men must collect their dole cheques at different times of the day. But queues in supermarkets have not noticeably dwindled..surface prosperity for those who have not felt the hardest impact of the country's economic woes.