Cabin crew at Brussels Airlines submitted an “indefinite period” strike notice on 16 November, indicating they would potentially strike over the Christmas and New Year period. A few days later, a date was set for 1-3 December for the strike, however, the unions have now announced that the action is temporarily suspended.
Unions representing cabin crew have announced that after the strike notice, airline management submitted a “serious proposal” addressing their concerns, which, according to the Brussels Times, unions will be discussing with their members over the course of the following month. As the terms of the written proposal are only valid as long as no strike takes place, all action is put on hold until the suggested agreement is analysed and a collective decision can be taken.
“There is a great deal of frustration among staff. Pressure of work and a lack of rest remain, while at the same time complaints are minimalised”, Jolinde Defieuw, from the ACV Puls union, said two weeks ago. Both ACV Puls and CNE, the main unions in Belgium, put forward several problems with the management of the airline that have left employees dissatisfied with the working conditions. Two of the issues are similar to those also highlighted by Ryanair staff during their multiple strikes in Belgium this year: overworking and unfair wages.
According to the unions, despite having the most profitable summer ever, Brussels Airlines still pays lower salaries agreed on in 2020, when the airline, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, had to go through restructuring.
However, the “immediate trigger” of the strike notice was the publishing of the rosters for the upcoming season without consultation with union representatives, which, according to the unions, is in breach of their collective labour agreement. Moreover, the airline also unilaterally changed the requirements that need to be met for someone to be promoted the Cabin Chief, or Chief Steward, position.
Last week, pilots have also issued a strike notice, citing similar issues, especially insufficient rest time between flights. “During the corona crisis, rest times were changed increasing workload for cabin crews and pilots. Staff are now requesting structural measures to build more rest times into their schedules”, Defieuw said. For the pilots, no proposal has yet been submitted by the airline. However, management responded in a similar way, saying it is willing to sit down with union representatives, hoping to find “constructive solutions” for both sides, so an agreement might soon be suggested for pilots as well.