Teachers are taking part in a general strike today in Belgium against the 'austerity' policies of the Belgian government. As well as schools being closed, hospital appointments have been cancelled, most transport systems have ground to a halt, government offices are closed and there is talk of motorways being blockaded. Pickets were out in force before dawn, blockading offices and businesses.

The strikers are protesting against measures to freeze pay, increase the pension age to 67 and cut services, which the new right wing coalition government is bringing in in order to 'tackle the deficit'. Like governments across Europe, it is determined to keep international bondholders happy while attacking the most vulnerable people in its own population.

Union leaders say more strikes are planned for January, if the government proceeds with its plans.