A countrywide strike in Belgium brought the public transport system to its knees, affecting trains, trams and buses. Unions were protesting over what they say is the government’s failure to respond to rising prices.
Motorways were clogged with cars during the rush hours, with tailbacks of 300 kilometres reported. One driver said: “I think that first we need negotiations to clear up some things and they should only take action after that. So we are sort of being held hostage, we just happen to work here and we’ve got no way of getting to work.”
Eurostar services to Britain and France were suspended. Unions want to see the government tackle inflation, which hit a 24-year high in July of just under six per cent.
Workers from the finance sector protested in the city centre, worried about their jobs. Miranda Ulens is from socialist union FGTB. She said: “We can see today that some companies are having trouble but this is only the beginning and the whole sector, all of the Belgian economy will have problems. So we need to send a strong signal that the workers are mobilised and have fears and worries.”
Last week the Belgian government was busy salvaging the country’s two main banks Fortis and Dexia.