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Deadlock in negotiations as airport runs out of luggage space

11:52 15/05/2013

Negotiations between unions and management at Brussels Airport over the industrial action by baggage handling company Swissport broke down last night, with no agreement reached. Thierry Vuchelen of the ACLVB/CGSLB union said that after two days’ striking, the new terms offered by the management were “worse than before the strike”. “We can’t exactly convince the workers to resume work: all we have done is go back. All credibility is gone,” he said. Brussels Airport talks of a “saturation point”. Spokesman Jan Van der Cruysse expects a drop in the number of cancelled flights today, while stressing it was “time we found a solution”. He also highlighted the growing economic damage to the airport and the inconvenience to passengers. Airlines wishing to handle luggage themselves – which they are entitled to do – have been prevented from doing so by the strikers. The airport is also running out of space to store the luggage left stranded by the strike. At least 10,000 bags had already been accumulated yesterday. Swissport staff went on strike on Sunday evening to protest against staff shortages, which the unions say led to very heavy workloads and endanger the safety of personnel.

Written by The Bulletin



I have been unfortunate to be a victim of the latest Swissport strike on 22 August 2017. This time the numbers totalled 17000 bags left abandoned by yet another strike. Barely has the luggage halls cleared when another ten thousand plus pile of withheld bags is added when Swissport strike again. The heartache and misery of thousands of totally innocent travellers left without luggage for holidays & business trips is laid bare in the thousands of Facebook and twitter messages left by passengers who have had their bags withheld from them and never returned.
After two weeks on holiday I still had no bag returned to me. I had emailed Brussels airlines and Swissport to confirm I would be returning in person to collect my bag. The "lost" (the bags are not "lost or missing" just left abandoned until either the passenger returns for them or a member of Swissport staff finds the time or inclination to go sort through them) luggage area is chaos, as described to me by their own staff !
Bags with rotting food meant for apartments and villas. Fruit rotted and leaking out over the storage area onto other bags. Damp clothes or swimwear rotting and mouldy . The stench from the various storage rooms with flies buzzing around is disgusting and must be classed as a health hazard.

Any other business large or small is carefully regulated to protect the customer from poor working practices. Yet Brussels airlines, who I purchased a ticket from that surely forms a contract to travel, employ a 3rd party, Swissport, who repeatedly strike and cause misery and mayhem for thousands of travellers. Brussels airlines then claim "Force Majuere" and literally absolve themselves from any financial re-percussions of their actions in employing an unreliable luggage handler.

Why is it that these repetitive strikes are still allowed to be classed as "Force majeure" ? They are no longer an extraordinary event, in fact research shows that such as Bird Strikes (Manchester County Court in the case of Ash v Thomas Cook Airlines April 2015) these Swissport employment strikes are no longer a surprise or extraordinary event.

When will Government or Transport departments intervene to prevent these cruel and vindictive practices, cynically aimed at causing maximum heartache and misery to innocent passengers simply to bolster a political or employment cause.

Sep 6, 2017 18:17