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The threatened strike at Charleroi airport, which was planned for Thursday, May 2, was averted at the last minute.

The airport management and the unions have reached an agreement, as a result of which the planned work stoppage will not take place. This news comes as a relief to both travelers and airport staff, especially given the expected impact of the strike on more than 17.500 passengers and 94 scheduled flights.

The management's announcement follows intensive negotiations with the unions, which were mainly aimed at addressing complaints about harassment by managers and general working conditions at the airport. These discussions ultimately led to concrete commitments that were sufficient to convince the unions to suspend their strike plans.

The exact details of the agreement have not yet been fully disclosed, but management and unions have indicated that important steps have been taken towards an improved working atmosphere and better social dialogue. This is likely to include agreements to reduce workload and address management issues that were at the root of the unrest.

This development comes at a crucial time, as the airport prepares for a busy period. With the current spring holidays in Wallonia and the possibility for Flemish workers to make the bridge around May 1, a strike could have caused serious disruptions for holidaymakers and other travelers.

Averting the strike underlines the importance of effective communication and negotiations in labor relations within the aviation sector. The incident at Charleroi Airport can be seen as a teachable moment for other airports and companies in the sector about the importance of maintaining a good working environment and quickly addressing personnel issues.

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A strike at Charleroi airport threatened to paralyze a large number of flights on Thursday, May 2, with an expected impact on more than 17.500 passengers. CNE union representative Yves Lambot previously confirmed that some staff will stop work for 24 hours. This action followed long-term dissatisfaction among employees about their treatment by airport management.

According to the Walloon Minister for Airports, Adrien Dolimont (MR), there were 94 flights scheduled that day that may be canceled or delayed. The timing is particularly unfortunate, given the current spring holidays in French-speaking education and the opportunity for Flemish employees to bridge the gap with the May 1 holiday, which is traditionally a busy period for the airport.

Tensions at the airport have been palpable for some time. Employees have repeatedly expressed frustration at what they describe as bullying by some executives. The situation escalated recently when the unions filed a strike notice in response to what they see as inadequate measures by management. Although management announced last week that it would give two managers, who were at the center of the complaints, other tasks, this did not appear to be enough to calm emotions. The unions criticized this step as preventive and insufficient, especially given that the ongoing investigation into the complaints could take months.

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Brussels South Charleroi Airport expects a huge peak in passenger numbers due to the spring holidays in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. More than 500.000 passengers are expected to travel through the airport in two weeks.

In addition, employees complain of high workloads and poor social dialogue, factors that contribute to a tense work environment. “The management does not understand that the staff is impatient. They want concrete solutions to the problems that arise quickly,” stated Lambot opposite the national news channel VRT NWS.

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So far, the airport has not officially reported the strike website, potentially leading to confusion and frustration among travelers planning to travel via Charleroi.

This conflict exposes a broader problem within the aviation sector, where employees are often under high pressure and social dialogue is inadequate. With the peak season upon us, when airports traditionally see a peak in traveler numbers, further disruptions and strikes could impact other airports in Belgium and Europe.

It is clear that Charleroi Airport faces a significant challenge in addressing the issues internally and re-establishing a dialogue with its staff to prevent further escalation. This incident can be seen as an important signal for other companies within the sector to pay attention to employee satisfaction and employment conditions.

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