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Today is a general strike in Belgium

(B2) Belgium is now at a standstill. At the call of the main central trade unions—the socialist, the Christian and the liberal—a general strike was called.

Monday... a Sunday

The airspace has been completely closed since last night. Same thing for river traffic. Belgian railways are completely interrupted, including TGV, Thalys and Eurostar. The tickets will be exchangeable or refunded, specifies the company. On the road, carriers threatened to place blocking points. Public services are closed. And, everywhere else, there will be pickets in front of the main establishments. A practice considered legal in Belgium, to the fury of representatives of employers (FEB) who tried to ban this device. Some businesses, in the process, had no other choice but to close. In short, this Monday will look like… a Sunday.

Bring your toast!

Even the European institutions are affected, because the privatized catering services are not guaranteed. " We managed to get sandwiches for ministers (Foreign Affairs and Agriculture) who meet on Monday, said a European spokesperson. But for diplomats and journalists, the instruction is " bring your toast ! ».

Measures judged without consultation

The reason for the dissatisfaction? : the measures of the new government, of the coalition of the rights, in particular the freezing of all salaries and the increase in the pension age, such as the reduction of certain expenditure in public services. This without prior consultation. In a country where the unions, with 3 million members, are familiar with long negotiations, this is a declaration of war.

A strike policy or a strike against policies?

« The unions only think of bringing down the government » denounces Bart de Wever, leader of the Flemish autonomist party N-VA, the main government partner. The " people did not choose this government or want this policy retorted Marc Leemens, president of the CSC, the Christian union. " This government is grabbing workers and letting high incomes run ". A point of view shared even by non-strikers. " You have to be blind not to see that there is a real malaise in a large segment of the population » notes Alain Narynx, columnist for the economic newspaper L'Echo.

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde.
Published in Ouest-France, Monday, December 15

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).