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Belgian strike hits airport, public transport
October 7, 2016 / 9:17 AM / in a year

Belgian strike hits airport, public transport

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A strike in Belgium on Friday disrupted public transport across the country, closed factories and hit its largest airport as trade unions protested against government cutbacks.

Demonstrators dressed up as a banker and a subservient employee wearing a mask saying "Finance Worker" are seen during a protest against job cuts in front of ING's main office in Brussels, Belgium, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Brussels Airport advised passengers to only travel with hand luggage as most flights operated normally but some baggage handlers had gone on strike. Public broadcaster VRT said striking workers had closed the cargo entrance for trucks.

While there was no disruption to trains, bus services were impacted throughout Belgium. Brussels public transport group STIB/MIVB said it was operating at about 75 percent of capacity.

The strike is the latest protest against government cutbacks. Last week, tens of thousands of Belgian workers marched through Brussels on the second anniversary of the centre-right government in protest against what workers’ see as plans to extend the working week and abandon a scheduled wage increase.

Friday’s strike also hit production at some of the country’s largest factories.

Production at ArcelorMittal’s plant in Ghent was halted with picket lines allowing in only a minimal number of workers in order to guarantee the safety of the equipment.

Workers at Audi’s Brussels plant were not on strike but output was reduced because many could not make it to the plant on time because of a lack of public transport, a spokesman said.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Susan Fenton

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