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Strike grips Belgium as EU leaders meet

Monday, January 30, 2012

Laaska News Jan 30, 2012

Belgium’s unions are on general strike in an anti-austerity protest aimed at the government and European Union leaders meeting in Brussels.

The walkout began just hours before an EU summit, as the bloc continues its struggle to forge a deal for a debt write-down between Greece and its creditors.

Tough discussion is expected at the summit over new measures to resolve the sovereign debt crisis, including a proposal for temporarily transferring Greece’s power to compile budgets to EU authorities.

Belgium’s major unions called for a 24-hour national strike timed to coincide with the EU summit.

The unions are opposing the major austerity measures proposed by Belgium’s new government as part of debt reduction efforts. Proposals for delaying the start of pension payout and cutting compensation for the unemployed have provoked public anger.

The general strike is Belgium’s first in 19 years. It is halting the country’s trains and buses as well as high-speed international trains for Paris and London.

All flights have been canceled at an airport that is a hub for low-coast carriers. Flights are also being canceled at Brussels’ international airport.

Laaska News.