Unions organising the work-to-rule protest by Brussels Airport security staff on Monday think the federal government is working on changes to the Tobback law which regulates the work of security agents. Bart Neyens, federal secretary of CGSP Aviation, points out that he feels this has been implied. “It seems that with amendments to the Tobback law the aim is to add to the tasks undertaken by private security agents to the detriment of airport inspectors,” he regrets. Various groups deal with security at Brussels Airport: police officers, but also security agents working for private firms, and security inspectors hired by airport authorities. Approximately 90 such inspectors work at Brussels Airport. Airport inspection became the responsibility of Brussels Airport Company, which manages the site, following the privatisation of the airport in 2004, but security staff is still employed by DG air transport, and thus, by the Ministry of Mobility.
Policemen had to take over some tasks (such as patrolling departure halls) from airport security staff following the heightened security threat in January. Staff fears that security agents will soon do the same.
“However, they have not been trained at the police academy like airport inspectors,” points out Bart Neyens. “Inspectors can issue fines. They wear uniforms and can bear arms. This is not irrelevant when they are faced with someone who is armed.”
“We are not against airport inspectors working for the police in principle,” he adds. “But to achieve this we need talks and this is not happening right now. We are also quite worried about the possibility of inspectors’ responsibilities being handed over to private security companies to save money.”