24 September 2004
BRUSSELS – Union reps and employees of courier firm DHL called on fellow workers at Brussels National Airport on Friday to come out on strike in their support.
The call followed failed talks with the Centre Democrat et Humaniste party (cdH), one of the Brussels region’s leading political forces, over whether DHL should be allowed to expand its operations at Zaventem airport.
The cdH, fearing a backlash among local voters worried about aircraft noise, is opposed to DHL’s plans.
But the union’s are worried that the courier firm will scale down its Belgian operations massively if it does not get the go ahead to expand, a move that could lead to up to 2,000 job losses.
Unionist Hendrik Vermeersch emerged from the talks empty handed shortly after 10.00 a.m. on Friday and immediately called for at least an hour’s standstill by everyone working at Zaventem, in support of the DHL employees.
He said he had tried to negotiate with the cdH, but to no avail.
“We told them that a deal had to be made today and that cdH had to make concessions,” he said, clearly disappointed.
Although Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Liberal-Socialist government backs DHL’s expansion plans, arguing thousands of jobs are at stake, it cannot give the courier firm the green light without the consent of the country’s regional governments.
Some analysts are now saying that Verhofstadt’s government could fall over the DHL debacle.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news