The port of Antwerp faces a shutdown Monday as Belgian dockers participate in a nationwide 24-hour general strike against a government austerity program that will halt rail freight traffic and close Brussels Airport.
Pilots, tug boat crews and lock operators at Antwerp, Europe’s third largest container port, will join the strike, which will also shut the ports of Zeebrugge and Ghent. Dockers plan to set up blockades on access roads to the ports to prevent trucks loading or unloading containers at cargo terminals. Stevedores expect terminals to be closed from 6 a.m. [local time] Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday.
The strike will have a “paralyzing” impact on Belgian ports and shippers should not deliver any cargoes on Monday, Inchcape Shipping Services, a marine services company, said. The strike by private and public sector workers is to protest government plans to introduce tougher retirement rules and cut unemployment benefits in a bid to reduce the budget deficit.
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