Brussels Airlines faces potential disruptions during Christmas period due to cabin crew strike threat

Brussels Airlines cabin crew on strike – June 2022 – copyright Bart Noëth

After the most profitable Summer for the airline and the introduction of the Airbus A320neo, Brussels Airlines is – once again – grappling with social unrest as the cabin crew issues an indefinite strike notice, reported a BBTK-SETCA representative to ACV Puls, another union, confirms the notice and highlights potential disruptions during the upcoming Christmas vacation, raising concerns for thousands of travelers. Despite this, Brussels Airlines asserts its determination to find solutions to the escalating issues.

The strike notice, submitted collectively on Thursday, is set to commence from November 23, according to CNE Secretary Didier Lebbe. ACV Puls adds that the strike notice stems from deep-seated discontent within the workforce, where social dialogue has been strained for an extended period.

The immediate trigger for the strike notice, according to the union, is the company’s alleged non-compliance with various collective labor agreements. The management reportedly failed to consult employee representatives before publishing staff schedules. Additionally, unilateral changes were made to the entry requirements for the position of cabin chief (purser).

The unions also express dissatisfaction with the company’s adherence to salary agreements from 2020, a year marked by a restructuring due to the COVID-19 crisis, which saw a thousand jobs at risk. Since then, the company has reported improved financial results, even experiencing its most profitable summer ever.

Jolinde Defieuw of ACV Puls states that the airline’s management is not listening to the grievances of the staff. Issues such as the planning system, excessive workload, and lack of rest are among the many problems raised by the employees. The cabin crew of Brussels Airlines is making a strong statement, declaring, “Enough is enough.” The exact timing of the strike is yet to be clarified, but there is an indication that it may target the Christmas vacation.

The union acknowledges the inconvenience this may pose to travelers during the holiday season. However, they emphasize that the blame lies with the employer rather than the employees, stating that sometimes striking is the only option.

In response, Brussels Airlines expresses surprise at the union’s communication, citing new demands that were not previously presented. The company asserts its commitment to complying with legal obligations and pledges to continue doing so. The airline’s management remains resolute in finding long-term solutions to maintain its attractiveness as an employer while controlling costs in a highly competitive market. Scheduled discussions with social partners are expected to take place soon, with the hope of reaching constructive solutions.


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