Trade unions blame Schiphol chaos on KLM management
KLM ignoring the changing labor market and the unrest in baggage handling was the direct reason for the strike on Saturday, which caused chaos at Schiphol on one of the busiest days of the year, almost all unions said to De Telegraaf. The strike dealt a severe blow to tens of thousands of affected passengers and to the airline's finances and reputation, the newspaper wrote.
A few days before one of the busiest days at Schiphol, KLM sent an email to staff, informing them that the airline would outsource part of their work to a baggage handler. Fuel on the fire, trade unions said. At 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, about 150 KLM platform employees went on strike. Planes of KLM and its partners, like Delta and Air France, were not loaded and unloaded. Some 90 flights were canceled.
The ground staff has been dissatisfied with working conditions for some time. Almost all trade unions pointed out that the unrest in baggage handling has been going on for years. That email again showed that KLM management had lost its "social antenna," Joost van Doesburg of FNV said to the newspaper.
"There is a lot of dissatisfaction, but the management seems to understand it only moderately. Many departments are sympathetic to this message to management. It seems there is a kind of company blindness," said Reinier Castelein of union De Unie.
Michel Wallaard of CNV said that KLM had ignored the changes in the labor market. "KLM pushed its flexible staff aside in 2020 on the assumption that these people would come back. But the management puts zero effort into becoming a more attractive employer again," he said to the newspaper. "To then solve it through the deployment of competitor Viggo, while there was already fear of outsourcing among ground handlers. It was only a matter of time before problems arose."
"People will no longer work at KLM for a low wage," Rob Swankhuizen of the Dutch Trade Union of Aviation Technicians said to the newspaper. They can go anywhere for a better job in the tight labor market, he said.
Travel organizations fear that the staff shortages will cause even more chaos at Schiphol once the even busier summer period arrives, they said to the Telegraaf. According to the newspaper, there are thousands of vacancies at the airport.