No passenger chaos in Zaventem strike
15 July 2005
BRUSSELS — Staff of baggage handling firm Flight Care went out on strike on Friday, but the feared chaos at Zaventem Airport did not eventuate.
The strike started at 4.30am and union officials were seen handing out pamphlets at the staff car park later in the morning. An estimated 50 percent of Flight Care staff was on strike.
Strikers also blocked trains at the airport station preventing rail traffic to and from Zaventem, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.
Airport operator BIAC said in the morning several flights were delayed, including flights to London and Greece.
Limited problems were reported later in the day, despite fears the situation might have worsened. Union ACV Transcom claimed 30 flights were delayed, newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ reported.
Friday’s strike was initiated after talks between ACV and Flight Care management broke up on Thursday without agreement in a dispute over unfair dismissal.
ACV is enraged by the sacking of prominent union official Maria Vindevoghel — made famous during the bankruptcy of airline Sabena — for breach of safety regulations.
Vindevoghel inspected staff work conditions while officially off duty during the recent heatwave. Flight Care said safety measures forbid workers from using their airport identification outside normal work hours.
The firm then sacked Vindevoghel over the phone on Wednesday night, prompting ACV to demand that Flight Care immediately reinstate her.
However, the baggage handling firm refused to back down during crisis talks on Thursday.
ACV spokesman Lode Verschingel claims concerns about the working conditions at Flight Care have circulated for some time, newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported.
Together with Aviapartner, the firm is responsible for all of the ground services at the Brussels international airport. Consequently, a Flight Care strike could have led to lengthy delays at Zaventem.
It has not been ruled out that the strike will spread to other Belgian airports.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news