A busy summer period at Brussels Airport could see disruptions for Brussels Airlines customers as employees are threatening to hold a three-day strike due in protest of the current working conditions.
On Tuesday, pilots and Brussels Airlines management are meeting to agree on the terms of working conditions. But if no agreement is reached, the pilots will strike for three days in a row at the end of June, reported Het Laatste Nieuws.
Brussels Airlines pilots and cabin crew went on strike at the end of December. With the 24-hour strike, they called for more respect from management on the huge workloads, a guarantee of better well-being for staff, and compliance with collective labour agreements. However, trade unions are claiming there has been no significant change in the airline's structure since then.
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The meeting today is meant to reconcile disagreements, but staff and management are reportedly not seeing eye-to-eye, which increases the risk of a strike.
Brussels airport is preparing for a busy summer, as flight bookings have shot up again after two years of Covid-19. Yet the pandemic resulted in staff shortages, which lead the airport to ramp up efforts to find staff in time for the busy season this summer. Restructurings due to Covid-19 have also had an adverse effect on staff.
"During the restructuring last year, everyone at Brussels Airlines had to give up their wages. The pilots were paid 30% of it: they were suddenly given a budget to choose a number of fringe benefits," explained aviation expert Luk De Wilde in Het Laatste Nieuws.
"But that amount has not yet been indexed, while for the rest of the population there have already been four to five index adjustments in 2021 and 2022. So they suffer a loss of wages."
"If there is a strike, just before the summer holidays, it will be detrimental to the image of the airport. Again. “Nobody benefits from it," added De Wilde.
"Both unions and management will do their best to make concessions to avoid new chaos. Do not forget that Brussels Airlines is still in heavy red numbers and that it still has to repay a loan of 290 million euros to the state by 2024. This is not good for regaining the trust of travellers."