Date: Mon, 14 Apr 97 12:37:25 CDT
From: "Workers World" <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Workers around the World: 4/17/97

Renault, Clabecq struggles

Workers World, 17 April 1997

Fighting against layoffs and cutbacks, workers in Belgium have waged an increasingly militant battle for jobs. Laid-off steel workers from the Forges de Clabecq steel works and striking Renault auto workers are leading the battle—which is posed more and more as a Europe-wide campaign against the budget restraints of a common currency.

The 3,000 Renault workers from the Vivoorde plant in Belgium are fighting the French-based company's decision to close the plant in July. The workers have occupied the plant. They are holding billions of francs worth of finished cars hostage.

On March 24, hundreds of the workers blocked the Eurostar train line from Brussels to London. Then, on April 4, thousands of Renault workers and their supporters clashed with riot police in Brussels. Renault workers from France and Spain, also facing layoffs, joined the action.

The next day, some 30,000 Belgian workers demonstrated in the southern city of Namur in a liar's march. They accused the government of false promises. Steel workers from the Forges de Clabecq led the march. Forges de Clabecq went bankrupt in January after the government ended subsidies in a budget-trimming effort.

Banners attacked the banks for abandoning the company. One read European Union = capitalism, social exclusion and slavery.

Renault workers, bolstered by a Belgian court ruling that declared the closing illegal, have called a strike for all European plants on April 11.