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No end in sight for Brussels Airport baggage strike
More than 500 flights at Brussels Airport were cancelled over the weekend, as a strike by baggage handlers enters its fifth day on Monday with no end in sight.
On Sunday, one in four flights were affected by the walkout by Aviapartner, which provides ground handling services for about 30 airlines at the national airport.
The industrial action coincides with the start of the autumn half-term holiday and is the fifth spontaneous strike by Aviapartner at Zaventem in three years.
Unions' complaints range from the status of temporary staff to work equipment, clothing and lunch breaks. Aviapartner workers complain that they do not know at the beginning of their shift when they will be able to take their break. "The discussions aren't going well," said a CGSLB union rep on Sunday evening. "We are stuck."
Brussels Airport chief executive Arnaud Feist called on unions to suspend their walkout. "The damage is getting bigger day by day," he said - adding that it would take at least 24 hours once the strike has been called off before the situation at the airport returns to normal.
"The workers have expressed their dissatisfaction," Feist said. "But we must now take the time to negotiate and I ask them all to make an effort to reach an agreement and restart work."
By Sunday evening, 530 flights to and from Brussels Airport had been cancelled and another 110 diverted to neighbouring airports including Charleroi, Lille and Amsterdam. Passengers who manage to fly from Brussels and reach their destination without luggage should be given a code to lodge a baggage claim online.
Aviapartner handles about 40% of flights at Brussels Airport, including those operated by British Airways, Ryanair and Tui Fly. The firm's contract at Zaventem was renewed in February for a period of seven years.
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga