Wildcat strikes stop trains in Belgium

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Wildcat strikes stop trains in Belgium

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There will be at least two days of disruption for rail passengers in Belgium after a series of wildcat strikes the day before a planned general strike.

Eurostar users are being warned about delays on Thursday.

In addition, national services ground to a halt in Wallonia and Brussels on Wednesday without warning, catching many by surprise. When questioned about why he was waiting on the platform, one Swedish tourist said he did not know there were no trains.

Thursday’s general strike is a protest at plans to reform pensions, including raising the age of early retirement by two years.

Another man waiting for a train in Charleroi in Wallonia was sympathetic about the strikers’ motives, even though he was suffering: “I can understand the reasons for the strike, which are completely legitimate, but I think we customers are the ones being harassed and held hostage, so it’s difficult.”

Meanwhile, industrial action by airport security staff in France entered its sixth day. The government has authorised police to cover striking workers, but Wednesday has seen little passenger disruption despite loud protests at Nice airport.

“We can’t have a situation where French people can’t get to their families for the holiday,” said junior transport minister Thierry Mariani.

Security staff are demanding a rise in wages of 200 a month, with one union leader suggesting this could be achieved through airport taxes.

Worst affected were Toulouse, Paris and Lyon – where all flights were cancelled for a significant part of the weekend.