Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Mending Strained Ties: French President Macron hosts Putin at Versailles Palace (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Mending Strained Ties: French President Macron hosts Putin at Versailles Palace (part 1)

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: 'The Square', Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix take top prizes

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

The violinist of Venezuela's protests; and France's dying bees

Read more

FOCUS

Famine used as a weapon of war in South Sudan

Read more

THE DEBATE

Let's talk Africa-Asia partnerships (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Let's talk Africa-Asia partnerships (part 1)

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

British Airways IT debacle could cost the airline big

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Security in Europe: Is there more that could or should be done?

Read more

Nationwide strike against rising living costs

Latest update : 2008-10-07

Thousands of workers across Belgium went on strike against rising living costs. Brussels was affected by the work stoppage, with international train services halted and government offices closed.

BRUSSELS - A nationwide strike over rising prices severely disrupted public transport in Belgium on Monday, forcing the cancellation of all high-speed international rail services in and out of the country.

Picketing outside the port of Antwerp restricted access, although workers at the port itself did not join the strike, Antwerp Port spokeswoman Annick Dirkx said.

Unions are protesting against what they say is the government's failure to respond to rising prices and are urging it to take steps to alleviate the impact of inflation.

They say they want to send a clear signal to the government before it presents its 2009 budget to parliament on Oct. 14.

"Purchasing power is really a point we want to stress," ACV trade union chairman Luc Cortebeeck said when the union announced the protest last month.

In Brussels, all tram services were scrapped and only a fraction of underground rail and bus services were running, a spokesman for public transport company STIB said.

Provincial train services were also hit and the two main rail stations in the capital, Brussels Midi and Brussels Central, were closed.

Frederic Petit, spokesman for Belgian train operator Infrabel, said all Eurostar services linking Brussels to London and Lille in northern France had been suspended until 10 p.m (2000 GMT). High-speed rail services to France, the Netherlands and Germany were also suspended.

Highways jammed

Motorways were clogged with some 300 km (190 miles) of traffic jams between 7.00 and 7.30 a.m. (0500-0530 GMT), about 100 km more than on a normal day as more commuters drove to work, said Glenn Lamon of the Belgian automobile association Touring.

A Norwegian traveller who arrived at Brussels Central hoping to get to the Netherlands, only to find all services cancelled, expressed the frustration of many.

"It's always the same thing with a strike, that you are hurting an innocent person. That is the problem with a strike, but it's the only weapon workers have," said Finn Junker.

Workers at supermarket group Delhaize and at Carrefour's hypermarkets staged industrial action in Brussels and in the country's southern region of Wallonia.

The strike also halted production at an Audi plant in Brussels, according to a union official.

He added that there were no stoppages at the Belgian plants of Ford, Volvo and Opel.

Date created : 2008-10-07

COMMENT(S)