DHL strikes at Brussels airport continue to disrupt mail network

Strikes at DHL’s mail sorting office at Brussels airport continue to disrupt the express mail courier’s delivery network in Europe, according to a report in local daily Le Soir, citing union officials and the company.

Stoppages by the 150 workers began last Thursday and Friday over the refusal of the German company, a subsidiary of Deutsche Post AG, to guarantee jobs at the centre.

‘It’s chaos in DHL’s European network,’ Hendrik Vermeersch, a SETCA union representative told Le Soir. ‘All the other sorting offices are overwhelmed. They (DHL) can’t wait much longer (to strike a deal).’

According to Vermeersch, 90 pct of workers in Brussels supported the action last Thursday and Friday, with further stoppages over the weekend by 10-15 pct of personnel.

Unions and the company hope to break the deadlock in a meeting with a mediator on Jan 4 at the earliest.

DHL claims jobs at the centre are guaranteed until 2008, when some operations will be tranferred to a new European hub in Leipzig, Germany. Unions say that jobs are threatened by other efficiency programmes implemented by the company.

‘The differences in opinion are not as big as they would like them to seem. An agreement should be found shortly,’ said DHL spokesman Xavier De Buck.

The transfer of DHL’s activities to Leipzig, and the announcement of future job losses in Brussels, came after the failure of talks between DHL and the Belgian government, which insisted on restrictions on the company’s expansion at Brussels airport.

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