20,000 passengers affected by baggage handler strike at Zaventem
The strike started by employees of the baggage handler Swissport at Brussels Airport continues.
No deal could be reached between the social partners on Monday afternoon. The strike started on Sunday evening and came as a surprise. The action has a major impact, with the flight schedule being disrupted and passengers waiting several hours for their luggage. Swissport is the biggest baggage handler at Zaventem, employing some 1,500 people.
The strike has major consequences for the passengers arriving at or departing from Brussels Airport. Jan Van der Cruysse of Brussels Airport estimates that 1 in 2 flights are being affected. "We are advising travellers to take only hand luggage if this is possible. If not, don't keep waiting for your luggage to arrive on the belt. Just fill in a form on the website of the airline, and your suitcase will be sent home in a couple of days." According to estimations, some 20,000 passengers had already been affected on Monday afternoon.
Several dozen airlines are feeling the direct consequences, including Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Brussels Airlines, Jet Airways, US Airways and Delta Air Lines. For the latest information, check the Brussels Airport website.
The strike also means that the flight schedule is disrupted. Many flights are delayed, others have even been cancelled, although this is only the case for a fraction of the flights, some 5 percent of the total number of flights it is estimated.
Trades unions want to see work pressure reduced
Trades unions at Swissport, formerly known as Flightcare, are unhappy about work pressure. Bart Bijnens of the socialist trades unions says that agreements had been made to reduce work pressure when the takeover took place, but that these agreements are not being respected.
This is a big blow for the image of Brussels Airport and Belgium as a whole Jan Van der Cruysse of Brussels Airport
The management says that the social partners had agreed on two weeks of social peace, but that trades unions have broken their promise. Trades unions are determined to continue the strike until a solution has been found. Both parties had a short meeting this afternoon, but no deal could be struck. A new meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday morning. Until then, the problems are expected to continue and to grow even bigger.
Jan Van der Cruysse laments the strike: "This has a dramatic impact, not only on the image of Brussels Airport, but also on the image of Belgium as a whole. This is not the first time industrial action is being taken, we are getting the reputation of countries like France and Italy in Europe."
[Flandersnews.be / Expatica]