On Monday December 20th, Brussels Airlines cabin crew went on strike for 24 hours starting at 5 a.m. Their goal was to denounce excessive work pressure and non-compliance with several collective labor agreements.
“We had to cancel 57 flights out of 116 planned, and this affects 25% of our passengers, or 3,500 people,” said Kim Daenen, spokesperson for Brussels Airlines. All passengers were informed whether their flight will be maintained or not. In case of cancellation, an alternative was proposed via the other companies of the parent company Lufthansa. If the alternative was not suitable, a refund was offered, Daenen said.
I ask the management and unions to work together as calmly as possible. To consider sustainable solutions, the dialogue must be constructive.Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Labor Minister
At Brussels Airport, representatives of the unions handed out papers saying, “The unions are forced to take such unusual steps for the following deep-rooted reasons: non-respect of concluded CLA’s (note: collective labour agreements), long-standing problems of workload planning and balancing social life and a growing disrespect of employees’ efforts and sacrifices.”
According to the Brussels Times, cancellations began already the day before. At least eight Brussels Airlines flights were cancelled as of Monday morning, including destinations to Geneva, Marseille, Goteborg, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Lyon, among others.
If you are still hindered by our actions, we are sorry, but please be aware we are doing this to become a more competent and respectable carrier.Labor union
The strike had been announced last Wednesday and the next day, the airline management had sent a formal notice to the unions to cancel their call to strike. It threatened to make them bear the financial impact of such an action, a damage it estimated at 2.5 million euros for the cancellation of a hundred flights. The move has aroused the anger of the unions, who have denounced it as “a declaration of war” and an attack on the right to strike.
On Friday, Labor Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne called on Brussels Airlines management and unions to resume dialogue, while a 24-hour strike is expected to paralyze the airline on Monday. “I regret the new escalation of the social conflict at Brussels Airlines,” Dermagne told Belga. “I call on the management and the unions to resume discussions quickly.”