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Belgian airports cancelled almost all flights in and out of the country on Wednesday due to a national strike over pay and working conditions. The industrial action, which was called by trade unions last week, has halted activity at ports, hit public buses, trains and trams and has led to blockades outside factories. Belgian air traffic control body Skeyes ordered ground operations to stop for 24 hours until 10pm on Wednesday evening as it could not guarantee enough staff would turn up, although the airspace remains open for overflights.

Brussels Airport, the country’s busiest hub, said it had planned to handle 591 passenger and cargo departures and arrivals and that the strike would hit some 60,000 travellers. Around 500 flights to and from the airport have been grounded. Brussels Airport is telling passengers: “Although the terminal remains open, we kindly ask our passengers not to come to the airport on Wednesday. “Passengers whose flight is affected by the general strike are requested to contact their airline.”

Brussels Airport, the country’s busiest hub, said it had planned to handle 591 passenger and cargo departures and arrivals and that the strike would hit some 60,000 travellers. Around 500 flights to and from the airport have been grounded. Brussels Airport is telling passengers: “Although the terminal remains open, we kindly ask our passengers not to come to the airport on Wednesday. “Passengers whose flight is affected by the general strike are requested to contact their airline.”

Just one passenger flight to Moscow will depart late on Wednesday, with a few late arrivals and some cargo flights.  Earlier this week, the airline warned that their operations would face major disruptions due to the national strike. British Airways said in a statement: “Like all other airlines, we are impacted by the national strike taking place throughout Belgium, which is resulting in flight cancellations beyond our control. “We are offering affected customers a range of options, including re-routing to/from Amsterdam, Paris or Rotterdam , travelling on a different date or applying for a refund.” Further transport disruptions National rail operator SNCB said about half of its train services were running. High-speed Thalys, running to Amsterdam and Paris, said it should be running normal services, though catering might not be available on all trains. Some Eurostar trains to London were cancelled due to maintenance.

Dock workers are not loading or unloading ships in the port of Antwerp and blockades stopped work at factories across the country. Brussels’ metro, tram and bus operators are only running a handful of lines, with similar reduced services across the rest of the country. Road traffic is heavy throughout parts of the country due to increased vehicles on the road.

Dock workers are not loading or unloading ships in the port of Antwerp and blockades stopped work at factories across the country. Brussels’ metro, tram and bus operators are only running a handful of lines, with similar reduced services across the rest of the country. Road traffic is heavy throughout parts of the country due to increased vehicles on the road. Industrial Action Three unions are calling for wage increases, an improved work-life balance and better pensions in talks with employers. Some see the strike as political action against the centre-right federal government ahead of a parliamentary election.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said talks needed to resume by Thursday and added that companies had created 219,000 jobs in the past four years thanks to the government’s policies. Belgium’s Central Council of the Economy, composed of worker, employer and consumer representatives, has advised that the maximum pay hike for 2019 and 2020 should be 0.8 percent. Michel’s office said that, including wage indexation, this meant an effective pay increase of up to 4.6 percent.

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