More than 60,000 passengers affected by Belgian strike action

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Airports, railway stations and sea ports have all but ground to a halt in Belgium amid a huge national strikes.

Trade unions members in the country’s travel sector are striking for higher pay and better working conditions.

Belgian air traffic control body Skeyes shut Belgian airspace for 24 hours from 10pm on Tuesday because it could not guarantee enough staff would turn up.

At the country’s busiest airport in Brussels, the strike affected more than 590 passenger and cargo flights, and impacted travel plans for 60,000 people.

Brussels Airport tweeted to ask passengers not to travel there, and to check with their airline if they had not been updated with the status of their flight.

Planes can still fly over Belgium but only above 24,500ft. Eurocontrol said Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was suffering moderate to high delays due to the Belgian strike.

Marianne Jacquet, a passenger affected by the Belgian action, said: “Regarding the strike, I think people should be free to strike but those who do not wish to should have the option not to.

“At the moment this is not possible – strikers prevent those who wish to work from working. I find this wrong both from a legal point of view and in relation to the freedom we are supposed to have in our country.”

Karel Daseier said: “The company changed the tickets, so I’m taking the bus and going to Rotterdam.

“It’s understandable that they’re striking, yes, I find that the capital and the labour are two different things and the capital continues to increase while the cost of labour drops.”

Both passengers were offered a coach transfer to Rotterdam for an alternative flight.

Unions are calling for wage increases, an improved work-life balance and better pensions in talks with employers.

But the government, run by centre-right leader Charles Michel, is not in a position to respond because it’s in a caretaker capacity after the coalition broke down late last year.

Some are accusing the unions of striking as a political stunt.

(c) Sky News 2019: More than 60,000 passengers affected by Belgian strike action

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