A national strike has brought much of Belgium to a standstill
, with airports, train stations and local transport services being shut down as the country’s main trade unions protest government austerity.
All flights have been grounded, with air traffic controllers joining the strike.
Protesters are voicing their anger at measures that include tax hikes, the freezing of public sector pay and the raising of the retirement age. Taking to the streets of the country’s capital many demonstrators blocked key roads. One protester noted the growing demands being placed on people in an age of austerity:
“There are young and older workers, they were all told that they need to work until the age of 65 and now they need to work 2 years more.”
The disruption resulting from the nationwide demonstration has also left sections of the public disgruntled, as one bystander told euronews:
“I think they have shown their dissatisfaction enough times. Its time to get back to normal life now.”
Unions held another mass demonstration just last month. Then they managed to assemble around 100,000 people in Brussels to oppose austerity. But the government has shown little sign of meeting their demands.
euronews correspondent Sandor Zsiros reported from one protest site saying:
“The protesters stress that they will continue with their action if their demands are not met. But the government is also in a difficult position, as they need to cut national debt by 11 billions euros in 5 years.”