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Belgian unions call general strike for EU summit date

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(BRUSSELS) - Belgian trade unions on Tuesday called a general strike for January 30, the date of a summit of European Union leaders in the capital Brussels.

Terming the strike "inevitable" after tense negotiations with Socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo's government, the unions said in a statement that the action was "patently required to convince the government and employers to take fully into account the social reality for workers and those on benefits".

Advance warning of strike action last week saw EU leaders toy with rescheduling their latest talks on the European economy and the debt crisis, with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti saying it had been brought forward by a day.

But EU president Herman Van Rompuy finally announced the original date of January 30, despite difficulties for Belgian authorities in guaranteeing normal service in Brussels and potential embarrassment for new premier Di Rupo.

Three union movements uniting behind the strike call said negotiations with the government on further likely spending cuts demanded by EU partners to stay within set deficit targets had proved "inconclusive".

Fearing new austerity measures on top of existing cuts amounting to more than 12 billion euros ($15 billion) for 2012, they demanded fresh talks with the government.

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