There is a risk that Brussels Airlines’ pilots might conduct strikes every Sunday between 26 February and 26 March. In a letter sent to the staff, which was leaked to news outlet Business AM, there is indication that if there is failure to reach agreements with management, pilots would conduct a strike for four Sundays in row.
Social partners at the Ministry of Labor have met with a social mediator, but the reconciliation talks have not been fruitful. The discussions include the proposal to index a past agreement in which employees receive a budget as part of their wages to put together a package of benefits, such as extra holidays, pension insurance or a smartphone.
If we cannot reach a settlement, we will consider whether legal or social action will be appropriate.Tim Roelandt, secretary of the ACLVB/CGLSB union
Tim Roelandt, secretary of the ACLVB/CGLSB trade union informed news outlet Business AM that negotiations were still ongoing and any further decision would have to be evaluated at a later stage. “Everything depends on how the negotiations will proceed,” he said. “If we cannot reach a settlement, we will consider whether legal or social action will be appropriate.”
In 2020, the unions reached a collective labour agreement which included a clause known at the “cafeteria plan”, which entailed that pilots would receive 30 percent of their wages through the cafeteria plan. The agreement was negotiated in the framework of “Reboot Plus” plan, which had to be laid down in an attempt to return to profitability.
At this point, the unions denounce that the cafeteria plan has not been indexed, especially after the war in Ukraine has unleashed high energy costs and inflation across Europe. The proposal to index the “cafeteria plan” has so far not received much support from management. 20 February is currently the date set to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile, leadership at Brussels Airlines is currently undergoing important changes. On Tuesday January 31st, the Belgian airline announced that its CEO, Peter Gerber, was stepping down with immediate effect. Former CEO Christina Foerster has stepped up as interim CEO until further decisions are made.
As of February 1st, Gerber is CEO of German airline Condor. He sat as Brussels Airlines’ top executive for just under two years, from March 2021 until end of January 2023. “A long-term successor to Peter Gerber will be announced as soon as possible,” Brussels Airlines said in a press release.