Belgian air traffic controllers plan strike at end of February
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    Belgian air traffic controllers plan strike at end of February

    The conversion of premium hours into additional leave days is the cause of this conflict. Credit: Belga

    The Christian trade union at Skeyes will file a strike notice because the management “committed breach of contract” during a joint committee on Friday, according to the union.

    The disagreement revolves around the way air traffic controllers can take up premium hours that they have been granted. “Those premium hours are not hours worked,” said Skeyes spokesperson Dominique Dehaene, reports Het Nieuwsblad. For example, air traffic controllers get premium hours if they are called up unexpectedly to take a shift. They then work that shift, but get paid extra hours on top of that.

    Air traffic controllers can save up those hours so they can leave earlier at the end of their career, they can get paid for them, or they can convert them in extra days off.

    However, that conversion of premium hours into additional leave days is the cause of this conflict.

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    The management had initially promised that air traffic controllers would be able to convert those hours into leave days without restriction, according to Kurt Callaerts from the union, but now they only want to grant a maximum of three days per year, reports De Standaard.

    The notice of strike will be filed on Friday, which starts a two-week period in which an attempt at reconciliation could follow. “So from 29 February there could be a strike,” Callaerts said.

    If the strike actually continues, it will take place at the end of the spring break period, which runs from 24 February to 1 March and is traditionally a period in which many families take the plane to travel.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times