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Belgian general strike of 1960–61 Redirected from 1960–61 Winter General Strike

Walloon strikers demonstrate in Brussels in the winter of 1960

The general strike over the winter of 1960–61 (French: Grève générale de l'hiver 1960-1961), known popularly in Wallonia as the Strike of the Century (Grève du Siècle), was a major series of strikes in Belgium which began on 14 December 1960 and lasted approximately six weeks. The strike was instigated by the militant trade union, the General Federation of Belgian Labour (FGTB-ABVV), against an attempt by the government of Gaston Eyskens to improve the state of Belgium's public finances by introducing a series of austerity measures known as the Loi Unique or Eenheidswet. Although the strike began across Belgium, it soon lost momentum in Flanders where workers returned to work after a few days, leaving those in Wallonia, a region already starting to experience deindustrialization, on their own.

The strike is considered a key moment for the Walloon Movement and an influence on the formation of Walloon identity. It led to the foundation of a new ideology of Renardism which linked Walloon nationalism with syndicalism. The strike also led to the creation of the pro-federalist Mouvement Populaire Wallon (MPW) in 1961 and an increasing polarization between Flemish and Walloons which culminated, from the late 1960s, in the Linguistic Wars and, ultimately, in Belgium's gradual transformation into a federal state.

The 1983 film Winter 1960 is based on the strike. The strike was the subject of the documentary film Lorsque le bateau de Léon M. descendit la Meuse pour la première fois (1979) by the Dardenne brothers.

See also

Further reading

  • Neuville, J.; Yerna, J. (1990). Le Choc de l'Hiver '60-'61: Les Grèves contre la Loi Unique. Brussels. ISBN 9782873110024.

External links


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