29 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

Concerns have been raised about the security and safety of aircraft and luggage at Schiphol Airport due to staff shortages, according to workers who spoke to Dutch public broadcaster NOS. The broadcaster interviewed a number of employees working in baggage handling at the airport, who said that poor working conditions have led to many workers quitting their jobs

Baggage handlers at Schiphol complain of poor working conditions

Baggage handlers at the airport have long been complaining about poor working conditions at Swissport, a baggage and logistics firm used by Schiphol, stressing that a shortage of staff is now leading to further problems such as safety and security risks. 

A luggage worker told NOS: “The number of flights has not decreased. You start with five people and at a certain point, you are alone on a flight. That is simply not possible.” 

The broadcaster also found that a large number of workers have switched companies, for example, one worker had quit working for Swissport at Schiphol and moved to KLM. An overview obtained by NOS shows that 14 foremen left baggage handler Swissport in 2023 out of a total of 37. These staff are responsible for the teams that load and unload baggage from planes. 

Workload has become too high for baggage handlers to work safely, say employees

As part of their interviews with employees at Swissport, NOS found that a number of workers believe the workload has become too high for them to be able to work safely. The broadcaster revealed that in October 2023 a serious incident took place where baggage handlers overloaded an aircraft, causing potential danger to pilots, passengers and freight. 

Thankfully, a pilot spotted the error and corrected the issue, but Swissport responded by suspending the team lead overseeing the events that day. Representatives of trade union FNV blame the excess workload of baggage handlers for this mistake. 

An employee who recently left Swissport said: “This colleague already had to deal with irritated passengers and crew on a flight. He arrived at the other flight with a delay and barely a break.” The trade union agreed, stating: “Under this enormous workload, there are more and more incidents and minor accidents involving equipment and people. Consider minor collisions with dollies, but also minor incidents involving physical damage or incidents to the aircraft themselves.”

Image: Imran Khan’s Photography / Shutterstock.com

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