Labour inspectorate gets tough with baggage firms after 12 years


Baggage handling firms working at Schiphol airport must use lifting equipment for heavy suitcases as of now and the underground baggage handling space must be automated within two years, the Dutch labour inspectorate has said.

Half of all baggage handlers working at Schiphol airport are at risk of developing debilitating physical problems because lifting equipment is faulty or not used properly, an investigation by broadcaster NOS and Nieuwsuur showed last year.

The investigation also found that inspectors had not checked up on working conditions at the airport at any time in the last 12 years.

A number of baggage handling firms had asked for more time to implement the measure saying a new baggage handling space is not being planned by Schiphol until 2026, making automation withing two years an impossibility.

Labour inspectorate spokesman Paul van der Burg said baggage handling firms and Schiphol ‘should stop pointing ther finger at each other’.

‘The baggage handlers are responsible for the physical well-being and safety of their workers. But Schiphol, as the owner of the baggage handling basements must also show responsibility, he told broadcaster NOS.

Schiphol airport must also limit the amount of carcinogenic diesel emissions breathed in by platform workers as much as possible.

The health and safety body took the unusual step to not only inform the baggage handling firms and Schiphol that it would keep a closer eye on baggage handling rules but also sent its report to MPs and send out a press release.

‘We think this is a matter of social importance and we have agreed with the minister that we should be transparent about it,’ Van der Burg said.

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