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Rare general strike in Belgium

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Rare general strike in Belgium

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Belgium has been hit by its first general strike in more than a decade.

Workers staged a 24-hour walkout in protest at plans for social security reforms and changes to an early retirement scheme. Schools, transport, government services and shops were hit by the action called by the country’s second largest Socialist union. Strike organisers said they were pleased with the turnout. They also warned that a bigger walkout could take place towards the end of the month if no deal is reached in negotiations between the government and union officials. As well as flights being cancelled, train services were severely disrupted in the main centres. Strikers also picketed factories and offices, including major vehicle manufacturing sites. One of Europe’s biggest ports, Antwerp, was shut for business as dockers refused to work. Shopping centres were also forced to close their doors – and in some cases rush people to the checkpoint – when staff joined the action.