A cabin crew member in Belgium shared with us her view on the current crisis and described the stages of the pandemic as experienced by her and her colleagues.
It all started when stories of coronavirus cases in Europe began to grow louder and louder. All of us working as cabin crew were increasingly aware of the threat the virus represented for us and consequently for our families, and we started to demand that our health and safety are protected. While some basic equipment was provided, there was continuous refusal to provide masks.
In the second half of March, airlines started to suspend normal operations one by one, and my employer was one of them. Since then, while the majority of flights has been cancelled, some cabin crew members have continued to work on repatriation flights. This is done on a voluntary basis. We continued our demands for masks, as well as for extra cleaning services and disinfection that would protect the passengers and the crew. After further pressure on the company, masks were finally provided. The working situation is still difficult, though, as some advice such as social distancing is very difficult to follow in the aeroplane.
Many cabin crew workers, including myself, are now temporarily unemployed, receiving 70% of our regular salaries by the national employment office, and some additional contributions by the company.
Thinking about the long-term consequences, I hope that the company survives this crisis. No matter when things return to a situation that resembles the situation before the crisis, we expect that some additional hygienic measures stay in place. These should at least include using gloves during the service and more hygienic measures on board for passengers and crew.
Are you a transport worker impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? If you have a story to share, please contact:
Zala Turšič, European Transport Workers’ Federation
+32 478 79 41 12
Begüm Boynukalin, European Transport Workers’ Federation
+32 478 79 40 53