Belgium’s public sector walks out

Belgium’s public sector walks out

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Belgium’s public sector workers went on strike yesterday to protest a pension reform plan as the latest anti-austerity movement to grip Europe’s crippled transport links across the kingdom.

Trains including the Thalys and Eurostar international tracks were halted while commuters were stuck in huge traffic jams driving into Brussels, where bus, tram and metro services were non-existent.

“This is a great success,” said Francis Wegimont, head of the CGSP union in the French-speaking region of Wallonia. “Our members are determined.”

Postal workers, teachers, public broadcasters and prison guards joined the 24-hour strike against the pension overhaul proposed by the new government of Socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who took office on Dec. 6.

The coalition government has pledged to cut 11 billion euros ($14 billion) off the budget to trim the country’s debt and deficit - respectively at 96.2 percent and 4.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2010.