December 1, 2014 / 10:08 AM / 4 years ago

Belgian strike hits international rail services

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A strike on Monday in parts of Belgium over government austerity measures halted international rail services to and from Germany and Luxembourg and disrupted public transport across the country.

Unions, disgruntled over pension and social security reforms planned by Belgium’s new center-right government, are staging a series of regional strikes on Mondays until Dec. 15, when they plan a day of nationwide action.

Monday’s strike in parts of Western and Eastern Belgium, the second regional stoppage, caused rail operators Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] and Thalys to scrap all of their services between Belgium and Germany.

Luxembourg’s rail operator CFL added that there would be no cross border trains to or from Belgium.

Local rail and bus services in Belgium were also severely impacted, especially for connections to and from Ghent, Bruges and Liege. The action affected a number of company sites, including the plants in Ghent of steelmaker ArcelorMittal and Volvo Cars.

While Eurostar services to London operated normally on Monday, the company said there would be no trains operating on Dec. 8 and 15, when the strikes will hit Brussels.

Belgium’s government says the cuts to pensions and social security benefits are needed to make the country more competitive and balance its books. Unions argue the measures target working families while sparing the rich.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Alison Williams

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