Brussels Airlines announces three-day strike next week

Brussels Airlines announces three-day strike next week
Credit: Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines' cabin crew have announced a three-day strike with the support of the trade unions CNE and ACV Puls.

Staff are expected to strike from Wednesday 28 February to Friday 1 March, in the middle of the French-speaking school holidays.

"The Brussels Airlines crew feel completely deprecated, neglected and exasperated as demands made several months ago have been ignored by their employer," said Didier Lebbe of the French-speaking Christian Trade Union CNE.

These grievances refer to worsening working conditions since the Covid-19 pandemic such as long hours, low salaries, a lack of rest periods and work pressure. Brussels Airlines posted record results but is doing little to improve the situation for workers on the social front. Unions hope that by causing "serious disturbances" next week the situation will improve.

ACV Puls trade unionist Jolinde Defieuw told Belga News Agency that an ultimatum issued by trade unions to management expired last Thursday.

Brussels Airlines says it is committed to negotiating constructive solutions and expressed its hope of reaching a satisfactory agreement for all parties. "An early meeting next week with the unions is planned and we will strive to avoid this strike," stated spokesperson Nico Cardone.

Mounting social tensions

Social tensions have existed among staff for several months now, including pilots. The same unions had submitted a strike notice late last November, also for pilots, but the action was avoided.

The Brussels Airlines cabin crew called off their strike scheduled after a labour agreement was found between management and unions at the end of November. Later, management agreed to reduce the pilots' workload, resulting in a strike being off the table.

However, pilots then staged a 24-hour strike in mid-January, but for other reasons. They protested the airline's decision to appeal a 2019 court ruling that concerned a cafeteria plan which granted extra-legal benefits to workers on top of salaries. Trade unions argued management was refusing to index the agreed amount, therefore reducing pilots' purchasing power.

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