Most transport services in Belgium's French-speaking regions were halted as train drivers went on strike for the sixth consecutive day, protesting against a proposed reduction in overtime pay.
The effects were also felt in Brussels, which experienced severe delays to public transport, while some postal workers and rubbish collectors also took industrial action.
Workers in Belgium are taking part in national strike against budget cuts, changes to working hours and a rise in the retirement age.— Peter Thompson (@TheRedRag) May 31, 2016
Along with transport strikes, thousands of other workers, including teachers and firefighters took to the streets of Brussels to protest against public service cuts, implemented as part of government austerity measures.
Trade unions in Belgium have been protesting against government attempts to change Belgium's labor laws, with fears the changes could lead to weakened job security and even the introduction of zero-hour contracts.
Tuesday's strikes are not the last planned for Charles Michel's government, with the 1.5 million-member FGTB union calling another general strike on June 24, to combat the Belgian's government's policies of "austerity and labor-market flexibility."
The standstill delivered a fresh blow to Michel, whose government is still under immense pressure following security lapses that led to the Brussels airport terror attacks in March.
Belgian Divides Shown Bare
While almost all trains in Belgium's French-speaking regions were halted, an estimated 50-65 percent of services were still running in the Flemish-speaking parts of Flanders, leading many to highlight the divide between the wealthy north and poorer French-speaking south of the country.
Many Francophones are unhappy with the policies of the center-right/liberal government, which contains a number of Flemish nationalists, with a difference in economic ideology between the predominantly socialist south and Flemish north.
Flemish Christian Democrat MP Hendrik Bogaert told Le Soir that the strikes had "without a doubt put communitarian peace in danger," amid criticism of both unions and the government.
The dysfunction of Belgium amazes. Today, train strike, tomorrow general strike, unclear what strike on Wednesday. Like UK before Thatcher.— Anders Aslund (@anders_aslund) May 30, 2016
The chaos in Belgium has also been seized upon by Euroskeptics as a weapon to protest against the EU, highlighting the symbolic nature of the anti-austerity protests and division in a country that houses the bloc's main institutions.