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Photo: Brussels Airport

Strikes hit Brussels Airlines this week

The Lufthansa subsidiary admits that the strikes will cause “massive disruptions” for passengers.

Unions representing pilots at Brussels Airlines are staging two one-day strikes this week that will hit over 550 flights and 63,000 passengers.

The airline admits that the strikes, taking place on May 14 and May 16, will cause “massive disruptions”.

A 3% pay rise from January 2019 and an additional 3% in 2020 and a “flexible benefit plan” has been rejected by the Lufthansa subsidiary’s pilots.

In a last-ditch move to stop the strike, on Friday the airline added measures such as improved rosters and holiday planning, promoting what it said was a better work-life balance. But this was not enough.

“We deeply regret the refusal of our new offer that focuses on the main concern of our pilots – an improved work-life balance,” chief executive Christina Foerster said.

She criticised the unions for announcing a strike even before a new conciliation process could start.

“The union delegation continues to propose the same 12 points, which represent a total increase in cost of 25% for the company. It would be irresponsible for the future of our company and its 3,900 employees to accept this,” she explained.

Thibault Demoulin, Brussels Airlines’ chief operating officer, said the strike was “incomprehensible, since the company has submitted substantial offers to the cockpit union delegation”.

Job insecurity
However, besides pay and working conditions, the union points to an insecure future as being one key reason motivating the strike. Pilots and staff are demanding more clarity from Lufthansa Group about the airline’s future as plans continue for closer integration with low-cost Eurowings.

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