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Home Dutch News Top Dutch union issues ultimatum over Schiphol furore

Top Dutch union issues ultimatum over Schiphol furore

Published on 24/05/2022
Published from AFP.com

Dutch largest trade union FNV on Tuesday threatened “large-scale” labour action next week at Amsterdam’s overcrowded Schiphol airport, scene of long queues and cancelled flights over the past two months.

The threat to down luggage comes as passengers again this week face long queues at one of Europe’s busiest airports. Schiphol’s chief executive broke off a visit to the World Economic Forum to deal with the problem.

“Something has to change, we can’t continue like this,” said Joost van Doesburg, spokesman for the FNV labour union which represents the majority of unionised staff at Schiphol.

“Passengers and workers are literally falling over from fatigue,” he told AFP.

“If we don’t have an agreement, we will start with labour action on June 1, including work stoppages,” Van Doesburg said.

The FNV is set to meet airport delegates again on Wednesday, but could not say whether Schiphol boss Dick Benschop would join the discussion.

Schiphol officials confirmed Benschop flew back from Davos in Switzerland to deal with the problem.

Both Schiphol and the Dutch national carrier KLM have been battling staff shortages as passenger numbers picked up to pre-Covid levels since the Dutch government dropped most pandemic restrictions in March.

“It’s not clear whether these shortages will be solved before the summer, the NOS public broadcaster said.

“It’s busy again today Schiphol, just like over the May holidays,” added Schiphol spokeswoman Willemeike Koster.

“We’re trying our best, but passengers must keep this in mind when they travel,” Koster told AFP.

Airlines too including KLM, have warned of delays and cancellations.

On its website, KLM said it expected “longer waiting times and possible disrupted flight operations,” offering a voluntary rebooking policy or refunds upon request.

Most flights departed from Schiphol on Tuesday — some behind scheduled times — but at least 20 flights were cancelled, according to Schiphol’s website.

The flight cancellations did not have anything to do with problems at Schiphol, “but with the airlines themselves, who are also battling staff shortages,” Koster said.

The airlines “decide about their flights and the reasons for it (cancellations),” she added.

But the long queues have left passengers frustrated.

Over the weekend Dutch border police had to intervene when angry passengers trying to get to a flight bashed on a roller shutter after security personnel closed their booth at the end of their shift, Dutch media reports said.

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