A nationwide strike over the cost of living increases caused by runaway inflation and enormous energy bill hikes linked to the war in Ukraine snarled traffic through much of Belgium and affected businesses on Wednesday.
The main trade unions joined forces to call for wage increases as severe transport disruptions hit the country of 11.5 million inhabitants where inflation has reached its highest level since the mid-1970s.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent oil and natural gas prices soaring as nations spurn Russian energy and supply reductions wreak havoc in markets. The price increases are driving global inflation, while boosting profits at energy companies.
Unions are insistent that workers have to be shielded from the effect of the price hikes that drive up energy and food prices and leave many on the edge of poverty.
“Prices of electricity, gas, food have gone through the roof over the past year. Because of the war but also because companies seized the opportunity to increase profits even more,” said Christian Democrat trade union ACV.