KLM labor unions want new European Covid rules for China flights
Labor unions representing workers at Dutch airline KLM want Europe to implement new restrictions on flights arriving from China because of the new wave of coronavirus infections that has broken out in that country. KLM staff members are concerned about the large number of infections there, the unions said.
So far, several European countries have a negative test obligation for travelers arriving from China, but the Netherlands has not joined them. The member states of the European Union will discuss a joint approach on Wednesday.
"It is very strange that nothing is coming from the government," said Ingrid Brama of union VNC, which represents cabin crew members. Brama believes the Netherlands has already missed its window to implement a domestic approach, and now has to rely on “one guideline from Europe.” The VNC wants travelers from China to undergo a mandatory test that shows that they are not infected with the coronavirus. If that test is positive, they must be isolated and not allowed to fly. "We believe that our people should be protected," said Brama.
Reinier Castelein agrees. He is the chair of labor union De Unie. "People have those concerns. For example, KLM employees who do not feel safe because they also provide care for family members." According to Castelein, it is very important that there is a central European policy that must apply to all companies. "There must be a level playing field in Europe." He believes that well-considered measures should be taken. "These must be nuanced measures that are not harmful to aviation. We must not act hastily."
The trade union FNV also said it has receives word from people at KLM that employees do not feel comfortable on flights from China, said director Birte Nelen. "We need a broad European approach for this. It's about time, because otherwise you won't get anywhere with it."
KLM said that the safety of crew and passengers is of paramount importance. The company said it follows the guidelines issued by the government. On flights from China, passengers and crew are required to wear a face mask during the flight. "We are looking at whether additional measures should be taken."
KLM now flies to China three times a week and that will increase to six times a week at the end of this month.
Reporting by ANP