Belgian general strike paralyzes air, rail traffic and idles companies throughout nation

Trade unions are capping a month of labor action against government austerity policies with a general strike that has paralyzed air and rail traffic and idled companies throughout Belgium.

Monday's strike targets measures by the nation's business-friendly government to cut into employees' income, extend working time and restrict social services.

The strike also had an immediate international impact since Brussels Airport, a busy hub with connections throughout Europe and beyond, had no traffic whatsoever.

Airport spokeswoman Florence Muls said some 600 flights have been canceled, affecting 50,000 passengers.

The series of labor actions, the toughest in years, started last month with a demonstration that drew some 120,000 protesters.