Nationwide strike hits Belgian transport, factories

A passenger looks at a departure information screen at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Belgium's air traffic control authority

A passenger looks at a departure information screen at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Belgium's air traffic control authority

Two passengers wait for information as they stand in a deserted departure hall at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Belgium's ai

Two passengers wait for information as they stand in a deserted departure hall at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Belgium's ai

Passengers look at a departure information screen as they stand in a deserted departure hall at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Wednesday, Feb. 13,

Passengers look at a departure information screen as they stand in a deserted departure hall at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Wednesday, Feb. 13,

BRUSSELS (AP) — A national strike to demand higher pay has paralyzed airports, sea ports and rail traffic in Belgium, while hundreds of factories are shut down for the day.

Trade unions are protesting limits on wage increases during times of economic growth and want better conditions for early retirement, minimum wages and better education on the job.

The center-right government of Charles Michel is not in a position to forcefully react to such demands at the moment since it is in a caretaker capacity after the coalition broke down late last year.

There were almost no flights landing at or departing from Belgian airports on Wednesday since air traffic controllers could not guarantee safety with a skeleton staff.