Following an announcement by ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, that they will be permanently shutting down a plant and six finishing lines in the Liege region, workers took to the streets in protest.
Thousands of demonstrators rallied against the closure of the factory, which will effectively end 1,300 jobs. Dozens of riot police were called in to crack down on the protesters.
Water cannons were deployed against the many demonstrators, some of which were wearing respirators to protect themselves against the police attack. As the police fired the water cannons and pepper spray at them, protesters swiftly retaliated by throwing stones at the officers.
The closure of the coke plant and six production lines is due to a declining steel demand in Europe, possibly due to a decrease in construction and also car sales.
Reportedly six police officers were injured in the protests. Two had to be hospitalized and others were treated locally, all with minor injuries. It is unknown how many demonstrators were injured.
The company has stated that it will still operate five steel production lines, which employ 800 people, but protesters want the regional government to intervene.
Apparently workers have agreed to return to work on Wednesday, following the rally.
In Belgium, austerity measures are on the increase as Ford Motor Co. announced in October that it will be closing its car plant in Genk by the end of 2014.
Belgian police use water cannons against demonstrators in Namur, Belgium, January 29, 2013.