Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.jpg
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
Photograph: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Transport services across Belgium were severely disrupted Thursday as tens of thousands of people were expected in Brussels to demonstrate against reforms pursued by the centre-right government of Prime Minister Charles Michel.

It is the fourth nationwide protest since the coalition government took office two years ago, introducing initiatives including pension reforms and an overhaul of the 38-hour working week.

Police expected 50,000 people to take part in the demonstrations across the capital, according to the Belga news agency.

The protest has been organized by the country's three main trade unions, to deliver the message that "this is not a happy anniversary."

Public transport in Brussels was running at a skeleton service early Thursday, while regional train and bus services in several parts of the country were also affected, according to Belga.

National railway services were operating as normal, but the Belgian rail website warned that Brussels' main train station could become very crowded as demonstrators pile into the city.

The international Thalys and Eurostar railway lines were not reporting delays, while Brussels' international airport warned that public transport disruptions could delay passengers' journeys to and from the airport.

Michel's coalition government includes his francophone liberal party, the Flemish liberal party, the Dutch-speaking Christian Democratic party, and - for the first time - the nationalist party N-VA. The government took office in October 2014.

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