Strike action at Brussels Airlines could disrupt flights on Monday

Strike action at Brussels Airlines could disrupt flights on Monday
The strike action mostly applies to cabin crew and pilots, but all staff members can join. Credit: Brussels Airlines.

Trade unions for Brussels Airlines have announced a 24-hour strike action for cabin crew and pilots next Monday. The impact this will have on passengers is still unclear.

"Unfortunately it will be the passengers that are hit by this. We can't really say at this point what the impact will be because it will depend on the participation of the various communities within the company," Brussels Airlines spokesperson Kim Daenen told The Brussels Times.

According to the three unions organising the action, employees are keen to take part in the strike, which starts on Monday at 5:00 AM, as frustrations have been mounting for some time now.

"We need to cancel flights due to lack of staff, people don’t have enough weekly rests, colleagues are being put in poverty due to the abundant use of technical unemployment," a statement from various trade unions stated, adding that they hoped that now, the staff's voices will be heard and that "real actions will be taken."

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Daenen said that now the "priority is, of course, our passengers and to see how we can best help our customers."

Simmering frustrations

Brussels Airlines deplores the strike action and expressed surprise at the announcement, as negotiations between the unions and the company are ongoing.

The impact could be particularly bad as it comes a few days before the Christmas holidays. "That is a very busy week for us. Our whole sector has suffered a big blow from the pandemic and this news on top of the existing issues is not really welcome," said Daenen.

But unions claim that a final and unsuccessful conciliation was held last Friday, after which staff called for a strike. They cite a lack of structural solutions to tackle the high work pressure, leaving staff feeling badly treated for some months. "We were forced to lay off valued colleagues, cut heavily on salaries, and had to agree to higher production targets."

They argued that they tried to get the message across to the management. "One year later, we see that these agreements are not respected, interpreted in new ways," the union statement read, referring to the company relying on temporary employment and hiring cheap temporary workforce.

"The bar is set extremely high for frontliners – but management cannot live up to its own operational expectations."

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