Passengers planning to fly with Brussels Airlines this morning are discovering that flights are cancelled due to a 24-hour strike by employees, timed for maximum impact during the high-travel holiday season.
“The unions are forced to take such unusual steps for the following deep-rooted reasons: non-respect of concluded CLA’s (note: collective labour agreements), long-standing problems of workload planning and balancing social life and a growing disrespect of employees’ efforts and sacrifices,” they explained in literature handed out in the airport.
“As a consequence, necessary changes to company culture are squelched, staff goodwill becomes a structural resource, and employee revenue a de-facto source of income to pay for management calamities.”
The strike was announced in advance and cancellations began rolling in the day before, with at least eight Brussels Airlines flights cancelled as of Monday morning, including destinations to Geneva, Marseille, Goteborg, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Lyon, Stockholm and Valencia.
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“We have given a warning well in advance to allow structured itinerary replanning, knowing full well this will reduce the impact of our action,” the unions said in an apology to affected customers.
“If you are still hindered by our actions, we are sorry, but please be aware we are doing this to become a more competent and respectable carrier, capable of delivering the service you deserve.”
Unions have long been warning that such actions were imminent given ongoing disputes with the Belgian carrier, including a heavy workload resulting from a lack of staff because employees are sick with Covid-19 or quarantining to care for ill family members.
Airline staff have also found themselves faced with extra responsibilities related to the pandemic, including the enforcement of mandatory face mask policies that have at times resulted in disgruntled passengers assaulting employees.
The strike began at 5:00 AM on Monday and will last 24 hours.