Brussels — Approximately 70,000 Belgian workers marched through Brussels on Monday as a day’s strike at Brussels Airport and local transportation networks across the country nearly halved public travel.
Protesters raised flags and flags stating “more respect and higher wages” and “eliminating excise taxes,” but some flared. Some demanded that the government do more, while others said employers needed to improve wages and working conditions.
The union said about 80,000 people were present. Police set the number at 70,000.
Brussels Airport said it could not allow passenger flights to depart and most arrivals were canceled as industrial activity extended to security guards.
Local public transport was running skeleton services, but some trains were operated to allow protesters to gather in the capital.
Inflation in Belgium reached 9% in June. This largely reflects the sharp rise elsewhere caused by the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the supply chain and energy and commodity prices.
Prime Minister Alexander de Crew said Belgian workers are more protected than workers in most other European Union countries because wages are linked to inflation.
He told public broadcaster RTBF that the government extended sales tax deductions for gas, electricity and fuel until the end of the year.
Brussels Airlines pilots and cabin crew are planning a strike over working conditions from June 23 to 25, and Ryanair’s counterparts in Belgium are planning three days of action from Friday, later this week. Is expected to cause further travel confusion.